Local Find – Tacos “El Compa”
“Are you a food critic?” This is the first question I was asked by a fellow patron at Tacos “El Compa” in Brownwood. I’m not a food critic, at all, but I wanted to learn more about my little town here in Central Texas. I love tacos, so I figured this new taco place would be a fun place to visit, observe, and talk about.
“Are you a food critic?”Fellow Patron
The name fascinates me. Tacos “The Buddy”. The buddy taco? Enjoy tacos with your buddy? I spoke with 3 people who are fluent in Spanish who couldn’t tell me specifically what it means. El Compa is short for the compadre, which I was told means a close friend or buddy or pal. Google says it technically means co-father or godfather. I suppose that makes sense; it takes a village to raise children, and whatnot.
I spoke at length with a good friend, who had been my translator on our last mission trip to Mexico. She says it’s intended to mean, basically: you are eating tacos there with your friends. However, that’s not a direct translation. The word “friends” isn’t quite right. Compa means more like family or a close buddy. She says the direct translation would mean that the tacos (plural in the title) are the friends, but that doesn’t make sense given that tacos are in fact a food, and cannot be friendly, only tasty.
I might disagree. I have a very real friendship with coffee. Actually, my friendship includes most things caffeinated in general, but coffee and I have been co-parents the longest. In the literal sense, I am certainly a better mother when I take my morning coffee time before facing the day. One could say that the caffeine assists me in tasks associated with raising my children by helping me to keep a good attitude and giving me more energy for the chasing of the toddlers. I simply enjoy coffee and our relationship. My friends bring me joy. Coffee brings me joy. Logically, coffee is a friend, right?
I used to have a similar relationship with tacos, but that was before I gave up sugar. Tacos are one of the best foods to enjoy with friends! We would make them all the time, especially on the weekends. Inviting friends and neighbors over to fellowship, eat and get to know each other better, is one of my favorite parts of the week. I would cook seasoned chicken in the crock-pot all morning and then have cut-up veggies and toppings spread out on the counter. Grab a tortilla and Build-A-Taco (there’s a name for a taco stand!). Now, we still occasionally make tacos, but sugar-free brownies and ice cream are quickly becoming a preferred replacement to tortillas.
At Tacos “El Compa”, the atmosphere is quite friendly. I visited during a busy lunch rush and watched 3 employees smile and laugh their way through. The owners certainly were creative with their design. Inside and out, you can clearly tell it used to be a gas station, but now it’s a super neat taco hut. They have decorated the ceiling with colorful, pastel plastic flags that remind me of the taco trucks in Mexico. The upbeat music played non-stop, not annoyingly, but loudly enough for enjoyment.
When I asked an employee, Laurie, about what she felt was a Fun Fact about Tacos “El Compa”, she told me about the environment.
“(We) try to keep it upbeat. Everybody works well together. We just try to have fun while at the same time give a little bit of feel like the streets of San Antonio.”-Laurie
Anytime I have the opportunity to have authentic street tacos, I take it.
Taco Bell (which happens to be across the street) years ago, briefly served “street tacos” on their menu, which were basically cilantro, onions, tortilla and meat. It was just *shrug* alright, but not authentic. I would rather make them at home. At El Compa, however, the fried double-stacked corn tortillas were filled with charred beef, well-cooked on a seasoned grill. That’s the level of authenticity I seek. And Tacos “El Compa” delivers!
Having grown up on the East side of Houston, in a predominantly Hispanic community, I know good Tex-Mex. I once visited a restaurant in North Texas, not too far from Dallas, that boasted to be authentic, but when they put a scrambled egg frisbee on top of my chicken quesadilla because it was “deluxe”, I had to Just Say No.
These friendly tacos in Brownwood brought back memories of our mission trips to Reynosa and Juarez. I admit that I did not expect to find this level of authenticity so far from the border, but I am pleasantly surprised.
Whether you are enjoying tacos with your friends, or just spending some quality time with your friendly taco, go check out Tacos “El Compa” at the old abandoned
Exxon Chevron (Thanks Carl!) on West Commerce Street, across from the square.
They’re open every day!
This is a non-biased review of a local eatery. I received no compensation or discounts, and the establishment was not made aware of my intent to write about their restaurant until I was preparing to leave.