When you visit El Compa – and you must – ask to speak to co-owner Israel Ochoa. The conversation will invariably turn to the days of his youth in Puerta Vallarta, when a beach, umbrella, good food and an esky were enough to make the perfect day with friends. You’re picturing a Corona ad right now, aren’t you?
This is the experience that Cocha and co-owner Gianfranco Monti must have had in mind when opening their new Northbridge restaurant El Compa. The 60-seat restaurant is refreshingly unpretentious: weathered plastic tables and chairs are laid with cheerfully checked tablecloths, the food and drinks are served in rustic earthenware crockery and the décor comprises little more than a multi-hued map on one wall and a few star-shaped lanterns hanging above the bar. All that’s missing is the sand.
This in itself is marked difference from the throng of trendy Mexican restaurants that have popped up in Perth in recent months, but the biggest differentiator of El Compa is the fact that this Mexican restaurant is run by actual Mexicans. So what you’ll eat is the authentic stuff.
A great start to a meal is a few botanas – dips like guacamole, pico de gallo and the delicious frijoles charros (slow cooked black beans with chorizo) served with tortilla chips. Follow it up by the quesadillas or tacos. We loved the pescado (grilled fish) and nopales (soft cactus). It’s honest, tasty food that goes great with a margarita… or two.
While you’re there, take a gander at the monster crouching in the back corner: an industrial-sized tortilla-making contraption shipped in from Mexico that – once put into production – will be capable of producing two thousand tortillas per hour.
The question is not whether Perth’s tortilla market is large enough to support that many tortillas, but instead: when are they plugging it in?!
(Also published in AgendaCity)