Campestre Chula Vista
1950 Menefee Ave.
Open: Fri. – Sun. 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Closed Mon. – Thurs.
When Revolver Taco Lounge opened in 2012, people didn’t get it at first. The leisurely pace of the meal rubbed some people wrong.
The Rojas family cooks every item to order and does not use heat lamps, so dishes tend to roll out in the order they are completed. Their homemade interior-Mexico cuisine, prepared by owner Regino Rojas’ own mother, won over the critics and developed a loyal following.
Sadly, they are pulling up stakes from the original West Seventh Street location of Revolver Taco Lounge at the end of June and are headed to Deep Ellum in Dallas in an attempt to flee rising real estate prices.
But Fort Worth has not completely lost out on the highly praised food.
The Rojas family recently opened its second restaurant, Campestre Chula Vista, off Jacksboro Highway near Northwest 28th Street. They have taken over the former home of Hacienda Vista Hermosa, whose signage and gallons of cartoonish pink and yellow paint still survive.
The party venue, which hosted countless weddings and quinceañeras, does boast a large and inviting patio. Now that monsoon season is behind us, it will be a big draw. You might consider it overflow seating for Joe T’s when the line is too long.
The restaurant itself is housed in what used to be a private residence that hosted its share of gambling back when this stretch of Jacksboro Highway was notorious for such things. In fact, I am told, secret tunnels still exist in the basement, which made for quick exits during police raids.
The interior is comfortable and colorful. Tables are set with painted ceramic plates, and matching Mexican planters are eye-catching throughout the property.
The sashimi-grade ceviche at Revolver was always classy and fresh, served in a heavy martini glass. The updated version of ceviche Yucateco ($15) at Campestre employs the same lime-based marinade with a hint of spice, but it is now rough-chopped instead, with large chunks of seasonal tomato, orange sections and strips of red onion, served on a plate. I prefer the original version, it is just easier to eat, but the velvety red snapper was delicious.
Most meals come with their signature handmade tortillas, which are a delicate flour and masa variety. You won’t be able to get enough of these.
My favorite, mole coloradito (served with either chicken $25 or duck $30), is worth the trip. The sauce is a specialty of the house, loaded with toasted ingredients and the deep, chocolatey Puebla and Michoacán flavors that have been passed down from mother to daughter for generations. The brownish-red color comes from both the ancho and guajillo chilies.
Chile en nogada ($28) has a paragraph-long description that I couldn’t resist. Basically a stuffed fire-roasted mild poblano pepper, its filling is slightly sweet from pears, raisins and peaches. It also includes ground pork and beef, onion, cinnamon and almonds, and is draped with a goat cheese cream sauce and sprinkled with fresh parsley and crunchy pomegranate seeds. It is lovely and tasty, but not too filling, perhaps with some grilled veggies or rice and black beans on the side.
Campestre’s house margarita ($10) was nice but nothing like the crave-worthy bar menu at Revolver. I hope they plan to add some of those famous concoctions flaunting artisanal fresh-squeezed juices such as their pineapple and mango syrups.
They also have a very affordable ($15 per person) Sunday brunch buffet, which features whatever momma was in the mood to cook, such as her slow-cooked ranchero style guisados.
Campestre Chula Vista is not only off the beaten path, it is nowhere near the beaten path for the clientele it is courting. When you turn onto Menefee Avenue it is a little confusing. It feels like you are headed into either an auto repair shop or a residential neighborhood. The vista is truly chula (beautiful) once you get past what appears to be a kiddie carnival entrance, but regulars won’t find it as convenient or stylish as Revolver’s original location.
The menu at Campestre is scant, but the food is equally amazing and the service is relaxed and professional. Unfortunately, I think the pricing will be tough for some diners to swallow, and I am afraid that the location will be a constant challenge for them. Here’s hoping another area of Fort Worth will welcome Revolver and scoop up a proven winner that West Seventh let slip away.