First Look at Campuzano Mexican Food

Categories: First Look

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On Wednesday evening, a new "Mexican" restaurant quietly opened within walking distance from Dallas Observer HQ. We'd watched with curiosity as the building at 2618 Oak Lawn Ave. made the transition from the former brick, beige and bland law offices of Robert S. Gregg to the new, stylized wooden façade of Campuzano.

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Although the blue neon sign out front and the server's T-shirts read "Campuzano Mexican Food" even our server was quick to admit that the food was definitely Tex-Mex. And it's one thing to win "Best Salsa and Chips," "Best Margarita" and "Best Mexican Restaurant" in places like Waxahachie, Cedar Hill and Midlothian, where Campuzano's three other locations serve up the same menu, but when you open a Tex-Mex place this close to so many other established restaurants that plate up similar fare -- from Mia's to Herrera's to Avila's -- then you have to do something to set yourself apart, right? Like, say, a decidedly non-Tejano dance-heavy, Top 40 soundtrack and free Wi-Fi with built-in iPhone chargers in nearly every booth, which one Yelper already described as looking "like giant spiders." (And we hear they plan to have DJs on Friday and Saturday night.)
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When we walked in past the bar area the first thing we noticed was Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" playing over the sound system, while several couples sipped margaritas and glanced at their menus. And then, even before we were seated, we noticed the colorful phone chargers. They are impossible to miss. The group to our right was already plugged-in, and once we were seated we immediately overheard the young woman to our left who couldn't contain her surprise. "That's amazing!" she said to her date before fumbling with the cords until finding the right cable for her phone.

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While diners look over the menu three complimentary salsas are delivered to the table -- a fiery, smoky "Diablo" salsa, a salsa verde (which our server described as an avocado and pesto sauce) and a traditional red salsa. We liked all three, but the Diablo one was the most memorable.

Campuzano's menu offers typical Tex-Mex dishes from enchiladas and tacos to chimichangas and fajitas.

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The location in Waxahachie is in a two-story Victorian-style house known for serving large portions, and the Dallas location is no different -- no one in our party finished their plates. And a quick skim through the three other locations Yelp pages proves that folks either love or hate Campuzano's food, with most folks giving them positive marks. Reviewers seem to especially love their "World Famous Nachos", as well as the chimichangas and fajitas.

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A manager at the Waxahachie location was recently quoted as saying: "The owner was looking for a space in Dallas for a long time." So far, the feedback on Yelp, Facebook and Twitter seem to be mostly positive, so it will be interesting to see if Tex-Mex heavy Dallas continues to embrace Campuzano's brand.



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16 comments
socialmedia214
socialmedia214

This place is really cool. One thing is for sure, Texans, Dallas Texans, are picky about their mexican food. Clearly, we have seen the "true authentic" mexican food restaurants in the area try and fail to please the persnickety Dallas crowd. Campuzano's is great, old school Tex-Mex/ Mexican food that is what we all love! Many great meals to come with the weather getting perfect for the patio. 

billp65
billp65

I've eaten at all of the other locations and it is by far my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. The portions are worth the money. The fajitas for one can feed two. The fajita quesadillas are loaded with seasoned meat. It's my favorite.

kerrmav
kerrmav

that  chimichanga  that the two of you described as to avoid and looks like a +*^& is actually very good,and since neither of you i am sure have even been to a  Campuzano's then you would not know that it is stuffed with beef and or chicken fajita meat peppers and onions and you can also get it without the peppers and onions.You really should at least eat at the restaurant before you try to review it . instead of sitting behind a screen anonymously throwing out insults and barbs really  get a life! you must be really special to be a top commenter  on the dallas observer.now thats a feather in your hat.

Quinn Cannady
Quinn Cannady

Clay Geistweidt Liz Bowles Caroline Arnold Shannon Holt

dziner_dallas
dziner_dallas

I have been twice. The location is great and the interior of the restaurant is nicely done and comfortable. The diablo sauce is good and the food was delicious. Our part of three ordered different dishes and everyone was happy with their choices. The service is good and the staff is friendly. The premium margaritas are especially good. The complimentary valet is efficient and worth a tip. Definitely will be going back.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Over the years I have developed a few highly refined rules of thumb that never fail me. One of my best rules for avoiding bad to mediocre tex mex is to avoid any restaurant serving chimichangas.

monstruss
monstruss

I drove past Campuzano the other day to find it open, and was immediately repulsed by the valet guys looking over an empty parking lot at noon. Look, I know it's dallas, but not every damn establishment needs valet parking.

wynnedutch
wynnedutch

@monstruss actually, most restaurants DO in fact need valet parking.  city code requires 6 parking space per 1,000sf of leasable space.  in this case, the building is just a hair over 2,500sf meaning they need 15 parking spaces, which from a google map satellite it looks like they have.  so when the 3-4 cooks and a few servers all get there (think they carpool to work?) you're left with half your parking gone.  That said, it's pretty reasonable to assume that not everyone in a party of 4 at lunch is all riding in the same car (you know, business meetings and what not).  so in order to accomodate all those seats in the restaurant, provide valet parking so that when the first 7 people show up and take your 7 remaining parking spaces, you don't have another 33 empty seats in your restaurant.  

why do people still complain about this?  you have alternatives if you don't like to pay for valet. 1) drive down the side street where they go to park the cars and then walk a block in 100+ heat. 2) take a cab or uber. 3) pack your lunch and sit in the office kitchen and eat.  4) take a bus. 5) walk to lunch.  Try any of those options for a week, and the $2 tip on the complimentary valet starts sounding pretty reasonable. 



shandango
shandango

@wynnedutch @monstruss The only thing that really bugs me about mandatory valet situations like this is that I never have cash.  I don't want to stiff someone for doing their job (even if it often appears that their job is not necessary when there's an empty lot.) I find having to search for street parking or maneuver tiny spots to be a pain so when I have the cash, sure, valet, whatever but I don't like not having a choice.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@monstruss @wynnedutch

actually Dallas code for restaurants is 1:100, or 10 spaces per 1,000 SF of building floor area. Some cities have a ratio of parks:seats (typical is 1:3 seats) rather than SF.

most restaurants have off site parking, or additional parking removed from the building, for their employees. If the restaurant is in a shopping center the lease typically mandates where employees park, which is not in the front of the buildings.

you assume it is the couple of bucks that people are complaining about with valet. not always the case. I despise valet because I don't want anyone driving my car and also have had stuff stolen by valet parkers. If it is an event, standing in line to retrieve my car is a big pain in the butt. I'm just not a patient person.

If I have the choice, I do not valet. I'll gladly pay a couple of bucks to park in a nearby lot and do it myself.

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

@monstruss @wynnedutch I do as well! Restaurants are getting to be like the airlines. Trying to squeeze every last dollar out of you they can.

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