We’ve all heard the stories and stats–opening a restaurant is no joke. Making it past the one year mark is reason for popping a few bottles of bubbly, but fifty years? That’s what we consider local legend status. Tucked in LA’s vibrant Silverlake neighborhood, Casita del Campo recently rung in their 57th year in business–color us impressed (and maybe a little hungry for tacos). After hosting a festive evening for the Yelp LA Elite Squad, we sat down with Casita del Campo owner Robert del Campo to hear more about the restaurant’s rich history and what the future holds for this neighborhood staple.
Casita del Campo is a second generation, family-owned business. Can you tell us a bit about your family history and heritage?
My Dad, Rudy del Campo, was born in Los Angeles way back in 1927, and at the age of two he moved back to Jalisco, Mexico with his family. Since the age of five, my father knew he wanted to be a professional dancer from seeing his idol, Fred Astaire, in the movies. At the age of 18, he returned to the U.S.A. and was drafted into the Korean War. After the war, with the G.I. Bill he was able to start taking classes in dance. He realized his dream and performed in many films, including A Star is Born, An American in Paris, A Flower Drum Song, State Fair, and his last film, West Side Story! He also performed on television, Las Vegas, New York, and had his own dance trio.
My Mom was born in Bogota, Colombia and arrived in the U.S.A. in 1963. In 1965 she started to work at Casita del Campo and was immediately smitten by this handsome man with a full beard and a nice rear end. They fell in love, married, and had four children together. Both of them dedicated over 50 years of their lives to fulfilling their dream of having a successful Mexican Restaurant in Silverlake.
Your restaurant has remained open for 57 years. That’s an amazing feat! What has changed over that time? What has stayed the same?
Over the past 50 years our menu has grown to include vegan and vegetarian dishes while still being faithful to our original menu. Our iconic booths are original 1962. The restaurant has grown now to include two outdoor patios and wonderful handmade glass mosaic tables made by Gina del Campo, the current owner. We’ve been hand squeezing limes for fresh juice to add to our margaritas and that continues. Cases and cases of fresh produce are delivered three times a week and that tradition of freshness continues.
Latinx-owned businesses are a huge part of the spirit of Los Angeles. What makes you proud to be a second generation Latin business owner?
I am very proud of my Latinx roots and proud to continue the spirit of community, food, drink, art, and music for the next generation of customers. It is a privilege to be part of a legacy institution in Silverlake. I want to continue holding the torch for another 57 years at a minimum.
Personal favorite dish on the menu?
My favorite dish at Casita del Campo is Pollo al Cilantro, tender chicken sauteed in olive oil with garlic, onion, and other goodness. I love the Steak Picado. A simple cheese enchilada with red sauce is divine. I also love the chile rellenos, the enchilada suizas, and the crab enchiladas.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for allowing us to be here for 57 years. With our customers, hand in hand we can continue to provide excellent food, drink, service, and environment. Viva la Vida!
From tacos to arepas to pupusas (we’re drooling, don’t judge us), Latin flavors are a huge part of the culinary heartbeat in Los Angeles. To explore more Latinx-owned businesses around the city, follow our collection of 50+ businesses here.