Tacos Star at Brady Street’s Kompali
Owners of C-Viche have created another winning restaurant, with a street-food feel.
Tacos are super stars at Kompali, the latest addition to the Brady Street culinary scene. This Tex-Mex taqueria moved into the space formerly occupied by the popular Cempazuchi. Owners Paco Villar and Karlos Soriano also operate C-Viche in Bay View, a personal favorite, where I first discovered their tacos when I happened to visit on Taco Tuesday.
With that in mind, I was both an early and eager diner at their new place conveniently located in my own neighborhood. Villar and Soriano remodeled and modernized the place, adding bright indigo blue walls and a mural in the bar that shows the complex process that takes liquid from agave to Mezcal. In the dining room, the owners livened the space with mismatched chairs, including a few fire engine red ones to add a happy vibe.
On a first visit we started with Passion Fruit Margaritas. This one isn’t on the menu, but it was our server’s fave, so we took her suggestion and thanked her. Other fruit margaritas include mango, strawberry, raspberry and pineapple. Also on the bar menu are a number of Mezcal options, several fancy margaritas, a mojito, a pisco sour and the usual tap and bottled beer.
From Appetizers, we ordered Shrimp Ceviche, described as, “A tease of ceviche.” Not exactly. The plate, piled with shrimp, came garnished with sliced avocado, chips, and enough perfectly seasoned shrimp to share, a masterpiece of flavor from the sea. When we asked Soriano about the especially delicious chips, he said they make them in house, just rolling the masa thinner than the masa they use for the tacos.
Together we ordered four tacos, which meant we got a complementary dish of refried beans cooked with pork, a tasty addition to lunch. From Pacos Tacos, the more traditional Mexican street food tacos, we noshed on Carnitas and Beef Barbacoa. The former, made with pork shoulder, came with the traditional cilantro and chopped onion. The latter, beef brisket, was topped with spicy pickled onions. Both had flawless tender meat packed inside corn tortillas that held their own up to the last bite. The pickled onions on the brisket added piquant vitality to the juicy meat. To mimic street tacos, they served them in paper, then delivered them in wire baskets, a fine way to cut back on dishes.
From Karlos’ Tacos, geared to more international flavors, we sampled Shrimp and Baja Style Fish Tacos. We also noted some other interesting choices: Anticucho or Peruvian beef heart, Vincent, which is Vietnamese marinated beef, and Argentinian, skirt beef with chimichurri sauce.
The fish taco mimicked the same taco I recently enjoyed in a small village in Baja. It had one piece of beer-battered whitefish in a sauce with a kick, topped with red and green cabbage to tame the intensity. For the shrimp taco, they sautéed the shrimp, then added cabbage, onion and cilantro. The flavor of the shrimp, like the ceviche, left no doubt about its freshness.
The tour de force at brunch came from Appetizers, Nachos de Pato. When they serve “pato,” or duck, they don’t mess around. This huge plate of those house made chips topped with melted cheese, sour cream and avocado aioli, had enough juicy succulent duck to serve four. I shared a couple of bites but devoured most of it myself. It was so luscious, I didn’t want to tarnish it with either the tomato-based red sauce or the not very hot green jalapeno.
For dessert, both the Churros and the Flan made perfect sweet endings to the meal. The churros, stuffed with cajeta (caramel sauce) were crisp and hot; the flan was dense, rich, with a hint of caramel.
Just because, I brought a friend to compare tacos. She has raved about another local restaurant where she orders the De Alambre, a grilled beef, ham, bacon, onion and green pepper combination. That taco is on the menu at Kompali so we did a taste test. It was no contest. In her opinion, Kompali’s De Alambre had more flavor, more meat, and the corn tortilla, unconditionally superior.
On the Menu
- Location: 1205 E. Brady St.
- Hours: Opens at 11 a.m. Mon-Sun
- Website: http://kompali.com
- UM Rating: 4 stars (average of Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zomato)