THE PLACE: Los Compadres is a longtime local Mexican restaurant on East Fourth Street; now, a second location has opened in the Grove center on Foothill Road in south Reno.
The parking lot is packed at noon on a recent Sunday; unfortunately for Los Compadres, almost all of those cars are there for Squeeze In next door. The popular brunch spot is full, with people waiting for seats.
Los Compadres, in stark contrast, has only three other parties in the place. Those of us who live south of the (McCarran Boulevard) border should step up and patronize this place to encourage more dining options in the neighborhood.
THE LOOK: The restaurant is clean, bright and airy, with unobtrusive decor. There's a bar on one side with TV, a main dining room and a smaller dining room off the entrance.
THE MEAL: I have a shredded beef taco and tamale combo, and it's filling, Americanized Mexican food.
The beans and rice are generous but a little bland -- and topped with shredded cheddar-jack when a more authentic cheese would have upped the flavor. The shredded beef in the taco is dry but savory. The tamale fares better, with moist pork and firm masa.
My companion enjoys her two chicken tacos; she finds the chicken moist and tasty and likes the crispness of the housemade fried tortilla shells.
We have to pour salsa from our complimentary chips and salsa appetizer into our tacos as they come without any kind of condiment.
KUDOS: Service is impeccable. We are seated and given a basket of chips and salsa immediately. Our drink orders are taken within moments of being seated, and the waiter is back soon for our lunch orders. Staff is attentive and friendly. Our chips basket is refilled without prompting.
QUIBBLES: I would have preferred more adventurous flavor. Next time, I'll definitely ask for a recommendation from the excellent wait staff for something with more oomph.
ALTERNATIVES: The carnitas burrito with rice and beans ($9.95) and fish taco with rice and beans ($8.79) sound tempting.
Pint-size diners might like the Mexican pizza, with a fried tortilla topped with beans; beef, chicken or pork; guacamole, green chile and cheese, at $9.49. Mexican tacos, three for $11.49, might be just the thing to provide the sabor auténtico I was missing.
RETURN TRIP?: Next time I'm craving Mexican food (which should be in, oh, five minutes from now) I'll definitely be back. There are too many thing on the menu I regretted not being able to try.