One of my favorite local restaurants is Campo Verde. It’s a local icon and only a few months younger than me. It opened its doors on July 10, 1983.
Many locals and visitors have had memorable experiences here over the years. My wife and I, for example, had our Wedding Rehearsal Dinner here.
We’ve tried to go here twice recently, but they were just too crowded to get a table. It’s a popular place around Christmastime! We finally made it there but had to wait until after the Christmas rush.
Somewhere between a dive bar and Tex-Mex diner lies Campo Verde. “The Camp,” as locals call it — well, as I called it once or twice on our recent visit — is a fun place for Tex-Mex food. Let’s check it out.
Where to begin? I’d start with the food, but that’s not the first thing you’ll notice about this place. First is the décor. The outside is colorful — orange, yellow, blue, and green. There are also seasonal Christmas lights and décor.
Inside, every day here feels like Christmas. The interior is decorated year-round with Christmas lights and décor. Lights! Lights! And more lights! Christmas lights everywhere, twelve months out of the year.
But during the Christmas season, which joyfully (or inexplicably) stretches from October through March, they somehow put up even more lights, garland, and decorations. Their website claims, “The movie “Christmas Vacation” & the Griswold’s can’t compare to the lights & decorations at Campo Verde!”
The lights aren’t everything, though. There’s a train that travels throughout the restaurant. It’s on a track a couple of feet from the ceiling. It goes into the various rooms of the restaurant and makes authentic train sounds. You hear it coming and can’t help but take notice and smile. It zooms along and feels like it’s moving fast. It’s a fun conversation piece for the adults and a delight for the kids. “Here comes the train!” you can hear the kids say as they point up to the track. I bet they get a kick out of it.
Fun fact: My dad liked the train so much he put a similar one in the game room of our house many, many years ago. The train is still there and gets regular use at family get-togethers. (Dad never quite figured out how to get the train to go through the entire house as he wanted. I bet my mom was secretly relieved.)
As if the lights and train weren’t enough, Campo Verde has lots of old advertising signage. There’s also a display case of sports memorabilia, classic toys, and other assorted items. Neon beer signs and breweriana adorn the walls. The men’s room naturally has a framed Rambo movie poster, and of course, more beer signs. I think the décor is fantastic. Delightfully over-the-top. Surely eclectic. You won’t believe it until you see it.
The lights and décor are festive and fun, but don’t forget to eat! Campo Verde has tasty comfort food. They call their menu a mix of “Tex-Mex, Southwest & Texan Mexican, and American food.”
We had chips and salsa, Tex-Mex, and margaritas — ¡Feliz Navidad, amigos!
They bring out chips, hot sauce, and cheese sauce. The chips have a dusting of their famous seasoning. The hot sauce is flavorful and not too spicy, while the cheese sauce is pretty good too.
I don’t often drink margaritas, but I like the ones that they have here. The small is around $3.50, and it’s a bargain. I got the house margarita on the rocks, while my wife opted for the frozen strawberry margarita.
On to the main course! I ordered the Lunchito Combo Plate — it comes with a cheese enchilada, chicken flauta, two beef tacos, refried beans, and rice. My wife had the cheese enchiladas. Both of our meals were very good! We like the food here.
Other menu items include nachos, tacos, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, tamales, and some American offerings. One of the most unique options on the menu is the Rattlesnake Fajitas. The menu says that it’s “prepared from an old forgotten recipe.” I’m definitely curious. It’s a little pricey, but one day I’m going to try it.
We’ll be back
It was a good meal and fun night out in a restaurant that prides itself on being delightfully quirky. It’s a special place for us, and we like it there. We didn’t get a photo of us during our recent trip. So, here’s a photo of us from February 2019 instead.
Is this the best restaurant in Arlington? No. But it definitely has a cult following. It’s a fun place, with good food, reasonable prices, and a vibrant ambiance.
Not much has changed at Campo Verde over the years — the menu and décor — it all feels the same. It’s almost like a time-capsule from a different time and place. It’s comfortable and comforting. Nostalgic. I hope they never change a thing.
2918 W. Pioneer Parkway
Arlington, TX 76013
Photos by Jason and Jennifer Sullivan. Post by Jason S. Sullivan, 02-19-21.