Los Compadres Carniceria serves the flavors of Mexico in West Phoenix | Phoenix New Times

Los Compadres serves the flavors of Mexico. Meet the women running the restaurant and market

Margarita Palomino and Erica Pinzon do it all. Together, they run Los Compadres Carniceria in Avondale, a restaurant, grocery store, market and butcher.
Margarita Palomino co-owns Los Compadres Carniceria. She oversees the restaurant portion of the multiconcept business.
Margarita Palomino co-owns Los Compadres Carniceria. She oversees the restaurant portion of the multiconcept business. Mike Madriaga
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While National Hispanic Heritage Month has come to an end, Los Compadres Carniceria in Avondale continues to celebrate Mexican heritage year-round.

The festive atmosphere is apparent as soon as you pull into the parking lot from North Central Avenue and are welcomed by a man operating a large industrial-sized charcoal grill. The sizzling carne asada and pollo asado emit an alluring smoky aroma that draws in customers from the neighboring city of Goodyear and beyond.

Inside the orange-colored building, a butcher tending to the deli display cases to the right of the entrance offers a friendly "hola." To the left, a cash register attendant greets customers while surrounded by an array of cowboy boots, belts, hats and Loteria cards. All of the items are imported from the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, where co-owner Margarita Palomino, is from.

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Sodas from the market pair with the restaurant's freshly cooked food.
Mike Madriaga
Palomino creates the breakfast, lunch and dinner fare offered on Los Compadres’ to-go and dine-in menu. She learned how to make the delicacies in Mexico before relocating to Phoenix with her children in 1988.

One traditional menu item is tripas. “Where we come from, in Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua, tripas are a big thing,” Palomino says. “You can find tripas stands on almost every corner, and they only sell tripas.”

The crunchy, chewy deep-fried pork or beef small intestines often are used as fillings for tacos. At Los Compadres, tripas tacos are served with cilantro, chopped onions and salsa. The meaty portions sell for $2.99 apiece. For bigger appetites, there's a $10.99 tripas combo platter that comes with rice, beans, tortillas, salsa, cilantro, chopped onions and lime — enough to make two hearty burritos.

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Patrons are greeted with a friendly “hola” from the butcher who tends to the deli display cases.
Mike Madriaga
Palomino’s business partner, Erica Pinzon, oversees the daily operations of the market.

"Erica was our cashier in a previous carniceria in metro Phoenix that I was part owner of," Palomino says. "I always knew Erica was a great person and a hard worker."

The two opened Los Compadres in 2020. Pinzon, originally from Guerrero, Mexico, procures unique candies, chips, juices, sodas, food products and curiosities from south of the border to sell at the market. She also makes sure the deli-style fridges are packed.

“The supermarkets in metro Phoenix don’t always have tripas,” Pinzon explains. “But we always have it here — fresh, raw or cooked." In addition, the carniceria offers arrachera de res (skirt steak), diezmillo (beef chuck) and a variety of poultry, seafood and other meat cuts.

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The carnitas are served in tacos, burritos and tortas (pictured).
Mike Madriaga
Carnitas, pork meat simmered or braised in lard, also is on the menu.

“With our carnitas, we have two variations," Pinzon adds. "We ask the customers if they prefer maciza, which is just the meat, the carnitas itself.”

Maciza, the leaner cuts from the shoulders, loins and legs of the pig, is the more popular carnitas variation served in most Mexican restaurants in the Valley. Los Compadres also offers the mixed carnitas variation, which is less popular because it’s a bit greasier and more gelatinous. Pinzon continues, “If you request the mixed carnitas, it will have the skin of the pork, buche (pork stomach) and the carnitas (maciza) meat itself.”

Customers can get carnitas stuffed into tacos for $2.50 a piece, burritos for $9.99 and combos with rice, beans and extras for $10.99. Los Compadres' specials are the most popular option thanks, in part, to the restaurant's location, the owners say. It's just south of the I-10 and surrounded by churches and schools.

“The moms order the specials for $25, which come with two pounds of carnitas, tortillas and salsa," Pinzon says. "They come before they pick up their kids from school.” Additional combo options are carne asada and grilled chicken specials, which easily feed three to four people.

If the customers are looking to serve a party, they can order pounds of raw meat from the carniceria area. The store conveniently sells bags of mesquite charcoal to give the party that south-of-the-border vibe Palomino recalls from living in Juárez.
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Unlike most Mexican restaurants that use pork in their chicharron de pella, Los Compadres makes theirs with beef.
Mike Madriaga
“We also sell comals for deep-frying meat; these are like the ones used in Mexico," Palomino says. "They are good to fry chicharron de pella, which you can't find anywhere else in the area.”

The restaurant’s beef chicharron de pella differs from the other Mexican spots that use pork.

“We cut all of the possible greases, leave the skin and dry it for a couple of days, and then cook it in the manteca — which means lard.” Palomino says. “We sell it by itself or with a side of guacamole to dip or in salsa verde. It’s a crunchy snack and keto-friendly."

And when fall arrives, the kitchen prepares large batches of Mexican caldos or soups.

“My menudo soup is a homemade recipe from Chihuahua,” Palomino explains. "We add the pata de puerco, pig feet that are also sold uncooked in our deli.”

The soup also contains honeycomb tripe, a standard menudo ingredient. And hominy is a key element; the large corn kernels are often ground to create masa, which is flattened into corn tortillas.

“We get our hominy from a tortilleria fresh, break it, and put it in the menudo," Pinzon says.

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“My menudo soup is a homemade recipe from Chihuahua,” Palomino explains. The warming dish is perfect for fall and winter.
Mike Madriaga
Bowls of menudo are served with a side of lime, diced onions and cilantro. And Palomino says there's another tradition she brought from home.

“In Chihuahua, we don't eat menudo with tortillas; we eat it with bolillo bread grilled in mantequilla (butter). In Chihuahua, at the stands and restaurants, they never ask you if you want tortillas for the menudo," she explains.

To satisfy all taste preferences, the partners at Los Compadres — which translates to companions or super close friends — offer customers the choice of tortillas or bread.

Pozole, a customary Mexican soup made with red chiles, pork shank or pork shoulder, and hominy, is also a popular item on the menu.

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Pollo asado is served hot off the grill that's located outside the market and restaurant.
Mike Madriaga
While Palomino and Pinzon are old-school entrepreneurs, they also bring the heat to the younger generation with trends that are popular in the Valley.

“Our quesabirria tacos are made with homemade red-colored tortillas, cheese and birria meat chunks inside,” Palomino says. “Then the tacos are deep fried and come with a side of stew, which the customers can dip the tacos in. We sell them for $3.99 per order.”

Palomino makes her birria with beef, cloves, oregano, thyme, mejorana (marjoram), pepper and morita chiles.

And don’t forget the salsas. Los Compadres offers seven different homemade varieties.

“If the salsas are super spicy, the chef must’ve been upset when she made them; that’s what we traditionally say in Chihuahua,” Palomino jokes. Despite the jest, the salsas definitely pack a punch.

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The mouthwatering aroma of grilled meats draws you in to Los Compadres.
Mike Madriaga
Running the market, restaurant, grocery store and carniceria is no small task for Palomino and Pinzon.

"It's been a difficult journey, especially in a male-dominated restaurant, butcher shop and supermarket industry," Palomino says. "But as I tell Erica, we'll be OK as long as we keep serving quality dishes and keep providing great and consistent service."

That, they certainly do.

Los Compadres Carniceria

425 N. Central Ave., Avondale

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