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Silver Street Standout

Campos brings the Mexican flavors of Zacatecas — and more — to downtown Deming.

By Marjorie Lilly

 

On the parking-lot side of Campos Restaurant is a nice mural by Robert Weide with a pastoral scene and a clever trompe d'oeil can opener at the top. This makes it stand out a bit on Deming's Silver Street, which is lined with lovely trees and a few nice shops and restaurants, and which is where the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum is located, too.

Campos Restaurant on tree-lined Silver Street in Deming.

Those trees are somewhat of a liability for restaurateur Albert Campos, because they block out the big hand-painted sign on the front of the restaurant as seen from Pine Street (alias Motel Drive), where most potential clients drive by. He worries some about this.

This is a shame because he has a wonderful "product" to promote. Campos is the place I usually go when I have friends or relatives passing through town or when someone wants to take me out, because it has the most interesting and creative food I know of in Deming.

Owner Campos for sure has his credentials in order as a chef, having worked for 16 years at the prestigious Double Eagle Restaurant on the plaza in Old Mesilla, much of that time as assistant chef.

He says he got the idea for opening a restaurant in Deming when he drove over from Las Cruces one day a couple years ago to buy some restaurant equipment from the Italian restaurant that was in the spot where his restaurant is now. He looked around Deming and decided he liked it. "Every day I like it more," he says.

Campos prides himself on the "authentic" Mexican and southwestern food he cooks up. But the restaurant has much more than Mexican fare. Besides the Big Jim Chile Rellenos, Steak Tampiqueno and quesadillas, Campos has a full menu of Shrimp and Chicken Scampi, Pasta Jambalaya, Salmon Crepes, Chicken Avocado Salad, Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops and Skilletini, which combines linguine pasta and Cajun sausage. Everything is served stylishly and with originality.

He makes up a different dish every day for a wide variety of lunch specials, which range from Philly Steak Sandwiches to Seafood Stir Fry, Fish Tacos with Pico de Gallo to Chicken Jerusalem, which is grilled chicken with Jerusalem artichokes.

Although the restaurant opens officially at 11 a.m., Campos says you might wander in some time before then and catch something from the breakfast menu, such as an elegant frittata omelet or some more typical Mexican dishes.

Albert Campos and his nice co-owner wife Mayra came originally from the state of Zacatecas in Mexico, whence their "authenticity" derives. The city of Zacatecas is also where, a few years ago, I spent a month walking around in a state of rapture over the Baroque and Churrugesco churches and cobblestone streets there. So I bring a bit of personal prejudice in favor of the Campos restaurant to this story.

Zacatecas is where Campos' fantastic BBQ Beef Brisket Sandwich comes from — one of my favorite items on the menu. It's a family recipe, and he says they used to cook it in a big hole in the ground, typical Mexican-barbecue style. The menu says it is "slow roasted on cactus leaves to flavor and tenderize." This is really the Mexican flavor known as birria, a very mellow meat taste.

Campos also makes Zacatecas-style ceviche as an appetizer, and invented a dish called Chicken Corralitos, which he named on a whim after the little town to the west of Las Cruces.

His restaurant is, of course, a family affair, as most Mexican restaurants are, and there is an old childhood photograph of Campos' father on the wall, as well as a few genuine charro hats and spurs from Zacatecas.

For desserts he has something for everyone: pecan pie, "old-fashioned icebox lemon pie," apple pie, flan. For those who imbibe, he has both Mexican and American beers and well as locally made St. Clair, Luna Rossa and Blue Teal wines.

The Campos Restaurant is a good place to stop off I-10 when en route to or from Las Cruces. Or it's where to go when you spend the day in Luna County to view the three museums and the new galleries and antique shops that have opened up recently, or to visit the border town of Palomas.

I think maybe next time I'd like to try the skilletini or salmon crepes, and maybe a nice icebox lemon pie afterwards. I could go a long way on their menu and not get tired of it.

 

Campos Restaurant is open Monday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 105 Silver St. in Deming, 546-0095.

 

Deming resident Marjorie Lilly writes the Borderlines column.

 

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