Staying at the Hampton Inn in Addison, IL on a recent trip to the Chicago area, I decided one evening to look to the west once again for any food options that I could find. I looked on Urbanspoon for restaurants in the Bloomingdale area and found a Mexican restaurant that sort of intrigued me - La Campana. It was only about a 10 minute drive from the hotel to the restaurant on Army Trail Road on the outer fringes of the Bloomingdale Court shopping complex. (see map)
La Campana (the Bell, in Spanish) is one of two restaurants owned by Nick and Rosario Kapsouris. The original De Campana restaurant opened in Bensenville in 1981 on Grand Ave. south and west of O'Hare International Airport. The Kapsouris family opened the La Campana in Bloomingdale in 1991. Both restaurants feature almost identical menus that focus on traditional and authentic Mexican dishes. The bars at both Campana locations boast nearly 250 different types of tequila on hand.
It was around 7:30 when I got into La Campana. There was no wait to get a table. The hostess took me to a small elevated dining area that featured Mexican artwork that included paintings and pottery, and overlooked the ornate and lively main dining room at La Campana. After a bit, a young man brought out chips and salsa for me. And not long after that, my server for the evening came over to greet me and he asked me what I'd like to drink. I thought I'd start off with margarita made with Cuervo Gold tequila.
Looking through the menu, a few things caught my eye. They had chile rellenos stuffed with ground beef and cheese. I always loved the beef and cheese chile rellenos at the original Raul's in Des Moines and wondered if the ones at La Campana would measure up. But I also saw enchiladas verdes on the menu - your choice of beef, chicken or cheese filled enchiladas topped with a green salsa. I've found that when we go to our favorite Mexican restaurant in the Quad Cities - El Mariachi - I've been getting the beef enchiladas with the verde salsa. The ones at La Campana gave you the option of ordering them with ground beef or with shredded beef for a couple dollars more.
The shrimp fajitas at La Campana also got my attention, as did the "El Zacateca" combination plate - one beef taco, one beef and cheese chile relleno, and a pork tamale. I came about *this* close to ordering that.
While looking through the menu, I was munching on the chips - which were a little drab and flat in taste - and the salsa. The first couple of dips into the salsa didn't yield much of a taste sensation, but I sort of dipped deep into the salsa with a chip and stirred it up. That's when something that was sitting on the bottom came up and gave me a nice spicy bite on my tongue. It wasn't overpowering, but it gave the salsa more of a zippy taste and made the chips more edible.
The gold margarita was all right. Actually, I thought the mix was a little too sweet. I couldn't taste much of the tequila in the margarita and I was having trouble downing the drink because it was so sweet. I determined that I didn't like it and ended up ordering a Sol beer before I even finished the margarita.
I got my choices down to the shredded beef enchiladas verde and the beef and cheese chile relleno. I wondered if I could get the chile relleno ala carte. When I asked my server if getting the enchiladas and a chile relleno by itself was a lot of food. He said in broken English, "No, that not too much."
When he brought the food out to me in about 10 minutes, I immediately saw that he lied to me. It was a shitload of food! The enchiladas, alone, covered almost the entire plate. They had a small amount of rice and refried beans on the edge of the plate, with a dab of sour cream and a bit of shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes encircling the enchilada. I didn't care a bit about those sides as it was going to be all I could do to finish the enchiladas - even without the beef and cheese chile relleno.
The single chile relleno came with a side of shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes, as well. The size of the chile relleno was huge. The pepper had been filled with beef, battered, then deep fried to a golden brown before being topped with cheese.
I decided the chile relleno could wait for a moment, so I took a bite of the shredded beef enchilada verde. The fork easily cut through the enchilada and the moist and tender shredded beef. From the first taste of the enchilada, I knew I had a winner. The flavor was outstanding and the somewhat spicy green salsa gave the overall taste a nice kick. But, boy, it was a lot of food staring back at me.
When I took a bite of the chile relleno, it was filled with ground seasoned beef that immediately reminded me of the seasoned ground beef filling I can get back in the Quad Cities at any of the Rudy's Tacos locations. It was heavy with spices such as chili powder and cumin. It's a taste that some people dislike, but I find it pleasing from time to time. The battered pepper was also flavorful, but it was stuffed with a lot of meat and there was a lot of cheese on top. Oh, but, God, was it huge!
My server came over to check on me and to see if I needed another beer (I did), and to ask how the food was. I certainly couldn't lie to him like he did to me when he said that three enchiladas and a chile relleno wasn't a lot of food. The food was very, very good. I instantly knew this was a place my wife would like if I brought her to La Campana.
Even though iit was way too much food, it was so good that I was able to make a significant dent in the enchiladas and ate about 3/4's of the chile relleno. I was significantly stuffed when I finally declared, "No mas!" to the server when he came back. He asked if I wanted a box to take the leftovers with me and I declined. I wasn't certain I wanted to see another enchilada or chile relleno for the next few weeks. I was stuffed, a little uncomfortable, but happy with my choices.
I was extremely satisfied with my meal at La Campana. Even though it was way too much food, I was able to thoroughly enjoy my enchiladas verde and the beef and cheese chile relleno. I was disappointed in the margarita I had as the mix was way too sweet. The chips were a little flat, but the salsa - once it got stirred up - was very good. For a family style Mexican restaurant, it was some of the best Mexican food I've had. I'd highly recommend La Campana if you're looking for good to great Mexican food in the western suburbs of Chicago.