Campo Verde Mexican Restaurant has put up an all-new LED “Christmas wonderland” light display after 40 years, just when the founder who built the original display and tradition is gone.
The passing Nov. 17 of former owner James “Smiley” Williams (1947-2023) closed the book on two generations of holiday history for children who came to see Campo Verde’s 200,000-light Christmas display and dine on large platters of exotic fajitas, enchiladas or Sonoran-Mex dishes.
The new Campo Verde is different. It’s a much simpler restaurant and bar.
But it still offers a flashy holiday light display, now with new twinkling LEDs and themed dining rooms such as a “Christmas Candyland,” a “Winter Wonderland” or a “Peppermint Village.”
Families and regulars streamed in last weekend like always, sharing the Christmas spirit in the sprawling restaurant at 2918 W. Pioneer Parkway (Spur 303) near South Bowen Road.
An electric train still clatters around the restaurant’s ceiling. There’s still plenty for kids to see.
For now, the food is basic. Campo Verde is about the show.
Owner Tommy Stewart ran pubs and a taco bar in Monroe, Louisiana. To cope with the holiday crowds, he is offering a limited menu with fajitas, specialties such as a chile relleno or a burrito and combination plates with simple enchiladas and tacos.
There’s a choice of burgers with fries ($13.99-$16.99) including a bacon-jalapeno-pepper-jack burger.
Some of the Campo Verde extras remain: the chips dusted with chile powder and complementary cheese sauce, for example.
Kids get to pick from $9 items such as a burger, a taco or wings. For $10, there’s a chicken quesadilla.
If you miss the old Sonoran-Mex menu at Campo Verde — which was the topic of debate in Arlington long before the restaurant was sold — 40-year chef Antonio Reyes is now cooking the same dishes at his new restaurant, Chente Cafe, 15 miles west of Weatherford.
Campo Verde opens for lunch and dinner daily except Monday.
To beat the holiday light viewing crowd, try to go right at 11 a.m. or in late afternoon after the lunch rush, say about 3:30 p.m.; 682-259-7154, campoverdedfw.com.