the spot: Mr. Menudo 15323 Atlantic Ave Compton, CA
the eats: Menudo
the bucks: $9
the full nelson: a full on Menudo only specialist working the streets of Compton CA
A great menudo is a magnificently comforting dish as most great soups are. The stew of tripe, hominy and chile infused broth sounds intimidating to noobs but do yourself a favor and just brave that first spoonful of the stuff. Aside from a calamari like texture, offal doesn’t get more kid friendly.
Thanks to some proper intel from Hadley Tomicki of the LA Times, I found myself on a street corner in Compton CA(South Central LA) on a Sunday morning to score some Menudo. Yes, the place is literally called Mr. Menudo and you should not be surprised that there is only Menudo on the menu. The line starts early as Menudo is a Mexican breakfast delicacy and a supposed cure of hangovers. I wasn’t hungover but I was fresh off a flight from Austin and the Menudo still hit the spot. So did receiving a hero’s welcome.
Few things are better than being greeted like a celebrity in your most comfy pair of shorts. Roger Mendez was responsible for that and making the most tender tripe I have ever had. What sets this Menudo apart is Roger’s dedication to the craft. He uses veal tripe as well as importing the dried chiles for the broth direct from Mexico. This is in addition to the 10 hour process of cooking Menudo. One of the things I love about Mexican street food is that it is as cheap as Cheap Eats gets. Still, quality dips from time to time but not so at this street food stand. This $9 bowl would cost $15 at a sit down restaurant.
Comforting foods like Menudo are difficulty to describe on paper. The taste of tripe is mild, though it is rich and fatty. It mostly absorbs flavors, in this case some earthy heat from the dried chiles. The hominy is buttery and starchy as well. The only hint of acidity comes from the lime. So in a sense, Menudo doesn’t boast an intense flavor profile but it is so damn satisfying. One absolute standout about Mr. Menudo’s menudo is the texture of the tripe. Most people describe tripe’s texture as reminiscent of calamari. This tripe has the texture of diver caught scallops: tender and velvety.
I have had some quality meals served on styrofoam but as far as bowls goes, this Menudo takes the grand prize. This absolutely should be on your list of Los Angeles must have Mexican street foods.