Compadres reaches 10th year of offering Mexican food in Dayton
Appeal Staff Writer
The owner of one of the longest-lasting restaurant in Old Town Dayton said she is glad for the company of others, now that several other eateries have opened.
“I think it helps because it brings more people into town,” said Linda Gonzales, who owns Compadres Mexican Restaurant on Pike Street. “People who live in Dayton don’t have to go out of town to get something to eat. We have Mexican, Italian, steak, pizza, subs … we’ve got it all pretty much right here.”
At 10 years, Compadres is one of the longest continually operating restaurants in the area, which now include Chuck’s Old West Grill, J’s Bistro, and the Gold Canyon Steakhouse. A pizza parlor and sub shop are not that far away.
“This is where the locals come,” Gonzales said.
Patrons enter Compadres to the sound of Mexican music, and a quick look takes in decorations of Mexican blankets, chiles and other south-of-the-border fare.
Though others had tried to keep restaurants going at the site, Gonzales was the one to succeed.
“I’m the one that got it going,” she said. “I got a lot of customers who have been here since day one.”
This year being the 10th anniversary, she’s planning a party this summer to celebrate, with a mariachi band, a barbecue on the back porch and she might even bring back $1 tacos.
“I did $1 tacos when I started, but costs went up so much I couldn’t do it anymore,” she said. “But maybe I can do it on the anniversary.”
She said the most popular items at Compadres are typical Mexican fare; chips and salsa, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, but added that “right now we have the best shrimp dinners. We have relleno stuffed with avocados and shrimp.”
Compadres, a mid-priced restaurant, offers a Chicken Arroz Especial, which she said is grilled chicken breast with grilled red and green bell peppers served on a bed of rice with tortillas. There is also birra, chile verde, chile colorado, tostadas, quesadillas, chimichangas, tamales, fish tacos, chicken mole, steak ole and huevos rancheros.
For dessert, diners can get fried ice cream, cheesecake or flan, which Gonzales said is a Mexican creme brulée with caramel.
The restaurant doesn’t have a separate bar, but offers margaritas – including its own concoction, Sangria – beer, wine, coffee drinks and brandy.
“I had someone say to me, ‘I can’t believe you succeeded so long without a bar,'” she said. “But a bar kind of brings in people who can get loud, and without the bar, kids come. It’s a good family place.”
Gonzales said she never had smoking in the restaurant, even before it was banned. Smokers go out on the patios.
“It’s small, and people would complain,” she said. “Besides, it would turn everything yellow and I’d have to paint every year.”
Gonzales, a Southern California native, said she used to waitress at Mexican restaurants in Bishop, Calif., and Gardnerville, where she picked up ideas for recipes. She moved to Dayton 11 years ago and started Compadres a year later.
“I moved out here because it was more country,” she said. “I saw this place and it was so cute, I thought I would give this town something to eat.”
She and her husband keep three dogs, a horse, 10 turkeys and 12 chickens, four pheasants and two peacocks. “Those are my kids,” she said. “That’s enough to take care of.”
In addition to being a regular haunt for local families, Compadres puts out a booth at both of Dayton’s festivals, May’s Oodles of Noodles and September’s Dayton Valley Days.
“It’s fun just to get out and talk to people,” she said, adding that she sees both regular customers and new folks at the festivals.
“It’s a nice little town, Dayton,” she said. “We get great clientele. Ninety-eight percent are wonderful customers, nice and friendly.”
IF YOU GO
WHERE: 165 Pike St., Dayton