Los Compadres: Lunch $10 & Under

We realize that there's a cheap Mexican place on every corner, but not every one sends the smells of deep-fried tortillas wafting into the streets like Los Compadres. If you're not following your nose to this place, keep your eyes peeled: It's a tiny, lackluster, blink-and-you'll-miss-it place downtown.

Inside, it could use a new coat of paint, but if holding off on the freshening up keeps the lunch specials under $6 and everything on the menu less than $10, we could care less.

Open up the sketchy-looking door, walk through the portico and up to the counter, and order off the alphabetical lunch specials overhead or the regular menu. Contrary to the signage, lunch specials are available all day Monday through Friday (not just 'til 3 p.m.). Don't forget to ask about the daily special, either.

More after the jump.

All the lunch combos come with miniaturized fare - mini tacos, mini burritos, mini chimis ... you get the idea - and rice and beans. We ordered an "A," which comes with shrunken versions of their taco, enchilada, and tostada.

Los Compadres deep-fries tortillas to order, and they're de-freaking-licious. If you're simply starving and cannot wait for your meal, grab an order of chips and salsa for a buck.

The chips are so crunchy you can hear other diners snacking on them clear across the place, which is just a preview of super-fried taco shells and tostadas. Don't even bother to try cracking one with your plastic fork, just pick the damn thing up and take a bite. It is finger food at its best.

It was a little disappointing that our food lacked any real heat, which is obviously apparent to the kitchen staff who handed us a bottle of hot sauce with our meal. It's also seriously implausible that some real Mexican cheese would shut the place down, so enough already with the Monterey Jack, please! Still, we had no trouble joining the clean plate club...

The miniature portions were surprisingly filling, and seeing as enormous portions of Mexican food seem to lull us into incapacitating food comas, they'll probably improve our post-lunch productivity.

But, when we spotted sopapillas on the menu for less than $2, we couldn't resist. They're like 75 percent air anyway, right? When they came out of the fryer piping hot, we smothered these three bad boys in honey and powdered sugar and devoured them.

Ready to explode, we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant, damning our soft spot for fried dough and a good deal.

If you're really looking to indulge on a dime, Los Compadres is the place to be. With beer and wine for $2.50 a pop, you can even afford to imbibe. Just make sure you've got enough time to digest before heading back to your daily grind.

Los Compadres
4414 N. 7th Avenue

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