What’s going on with all of my favorite Mexican joints playing musical chairs? Salsa Fuego (3500 Alta Mere Dr.) recently moved into a new space. The Star-Telegram reported that the owners of Paco & John’s (1116 8th Ave.) might be moving when their lease is up at the end of May. Revolver Taco Lounge (2822 W. 7th St.) will not be renewing its lease in the trendy West 7th Street corridor after it expires in June.
A post on Revolver’s Facebook page that said the landlord sold the building without giving the eatery a chance to buy it. The meandering spiel also mentioned some confusing stuff about corporate greed, force-feeding, and some nefarious plan that is forcing the city to continue neglecting that side of 7th Street.
While the place may be lacking in social media discipline, it has become my go-to spot for haute authentic Mexican cuisine. I don’t want to live in a world without it. Luckily, the owners have opened a new restaurant that uses a lot of the same or similar recipes made from scratch by abuelas, just like its predecessor. Campestre Chula Vista (1950 Menefee Ave.) is only open three days a week, but I’m guessing that’s because the owner has only so many grandmothers to work in the kitchen.
Campestre is a little out of the way compared to Revolver’s centrally located spot, but if you’re willing to drive halfway to Azle, the environs are like Eden. There are two gorgeous patios, each offering cool décor, flowers in brightly colored pottery, and a fantastic view of the cityscape –– and the QuikTrip just down the hill.
On a recent rainy night, my guest and I watched a storm roll in while sipping the generously portioned, delicious, strong house margaritas ($10). We were the only people on the patio for a while, until a shickered group of wedding refugees showed up and shouted/slurred weather updates every two minutes. It was like dining near a table of wasted Pete Delkuses.
I guess I was already missing the stylish West 7th Mex-Mex lounge, because I didn’t stray too far from the menu items that are available at both places. We started with the comforting, queso fundido ($15), fire-melted asadero cheese with plump Longaniza shrimp, served with housemade corn tortillas. Revolver’s version has bits of jalapeño, and frankly the cheese could have used a little bit of a kick. Still, it was a gooey, oily delight.
I could have made a meal out of just the chunks of sashimi-grade Japanese red snapper in the Ceviche Yucateco ($15). But the accompanying spiced tomatoes, red onions, orange slices, and cilantro breathed new, zesty life into the flaky, delicate fish.
The starters could have been a meal by themselves, but somewhere between our two courses the weather started to turn from intriguing to scary. In other words, we weren’t going anywhere for a while. Although it got a little windy, we stuck it out on the patio, which is more than I can say for the Delkusites.
I didn’t want to go anywhere once our server set out a plate of the succulent, tender, and rich carne campesina ($20). The skirt steak was served with fatty beans, spicy nopales rancheros (cactus), and a grilled jalapeño that made the dish sexy. My guest went for the very starchy enchiladas plazeras ($15), filled with a kind of cheesy mashed potatoes and served, inexplicably, with a pan-fried chicken leg that was delicious if superfluous.
I’m still going to Revolver as often as I can until it closes. I hope the owners find a new locale closer to my mid-town hovel. But I’m comforted by the fact that Campestre Chula Vista is out there. If I’m ever missing the cuisine, I just have to go visit Grandma.
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