There’s new life coming to the former Cempazuchi space at 1205 E. Brady St. And residents could reap the benefits as soon as late September.
Kompali, a new full service taqueria, is on the way. And it promises both traditional and internationally inspired tacos, along with appetizers and both tequila- and mezcal-based cocktails. The new venue will also cater to the late-night crowd on Brady with a kitchen that stays open until midnight.
The name itself means "compadres" in Nahuatl. And it’s a reference to owners Karlos Soriano and Paco Villar, two friends whose common interests and family recipes have come together in magical ways at the partners’ restaurant, C-Viche in Bay View.
However, the word also evokes the sense of congeniality and hospitality that the friends aim to bring to their restaurants.
"As friends, we compromise in everything, in all of our business decisions." Soriano notes. "We love what we do, and we’ve chosen this as our career. Our work reflects our cultures, our philosophies and our dedication to quality and hospitality. As we say to our employees: 'Do everything like you’re doing it for your grandmother.'"
As for the new taqueria concept, Soriano says it was inspired largely by Taco Tuesdays at C-Viche.
"Tuesdays are one of the busiest days here, aside from the weekends," notes Soriano. "So when we were talking with [building owner] Julily Kohler about the space, we really loved the idea of bringing that idea to Brady Street."
The interior of the restaurant will be refreshed with new paint and artwork. Stylistically, Villar says, the goal is for the space to reflect a "modern but really traditional vibe." In keeping with the current space, the division between the bar and dining area will be maintained, providing two distinct areas – one that is more bar-focused and the other more dining and family-friendly.
"We are so excited," Sorianos says. "We’re doing something we love. And it’s better because we are doing it as friends."
A modern taqueria
The kitchen at Kompali will be headed up by C-Viche Sous Chef Pedro Ojeda, who will oversee a menu featuring an ever-changing selection of about 13 tacos. Offerings, explains Soriano, will be divided into two sections. One will offer more traditional tacos while the second will introduce less-traditional internationally-inspired selections.
Housemade blue-corn tortillas will be a signature feature for traditional tacos, including al pastor tacos made Mexico City style. The approach features pork roasted on the traditional trompo; a skewered pineapple set on top allows the fruit's juices to flow down, mingling its flavor with the meat. There will also be chicken tinga, based on a recipe handed down through Villar’s family who is from Hidalgo in Central Mexico.
On the more chef-inspired side, traditional tortillas will sport modern ingredients like salmon teriyaki and C-Viche favorites like scallop, shrimp and fish tacos, along with tacos such as Argentine-style skirt steak marinated in chimichurri sauce.
Among vegetarian options, there will be rajas with peppers, cheese and potatoes; cucumber and bean tacos; and a nopali taco featuring cactus simmered in the customary red sauce.
Soriano says Kompali will also feature four types of salsas, tomatillo (verde), tomato (rioja), one featuring guajillo pepper, and a third made with an avocado base. All will be served tableside as an accompaniment to the tacos.
Customers can also partake in shareable appetizers, including housemade guacamole and esquites, Mexican street corn dressed in chipotle crema and lime and served alongside tortilla chips. An a la carte menu will also include traditional sides like rice and beans.
Soriano notes that two of the restaurant's offerings will be featured as part of the Brady Street Festival this weekend where both tinga and steak tacos will be offered streetside.
Just as the menu features both old and new-world offerings, the bar will feature a mix of traditional and creative cocktails. Highlights will include a mezcal-based drink featuring the fruit of the nopali, a cactus prevalent in Central Mexico. Villar says he'll make use of the sweet, refreshing juice of the fruit, also known as "tuna."
There will also be at least one mezcal old fashioned, he says, which will take full advantage of the balance between the smoky notes of the mezcal along with the drink's fruity components.
Villar adds that staff will be well trained so they can chat with customers about the various offerings, which will include flights of both mezcal and tequila.
Kompali is expected to be open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight. Soriano says they will also roll out a brunch menu, featuring on traditional Mexican dishes, in the months following the opening.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.