Cactus Cantina

Looking for a casual restaurant that’s not too pretentious but still serves decent food? What about a place to take the family? What about a place to take the kids and still get a decent margarita? Maybe somewhere for a fun and casual date night? Somewhere to go when you don’t need a high class meal, but somewhere you can wear a cap and not get all dressed up?

If any of these scenarios sound familiar or are remotely familiar, then Cactus Cantina is your place. Jay and I visited this restaurant on a lazy Sunday, so lazy that I never even drug myself off of the couch the entire day (except for when I bought my new laptop). I was wearing a tshirt, shorts, and a camo baseball cap, and I really, really didn’t feel like changing. Jay wanted a casual spot where we could get a decent meal and a cold beer but still have fun. We were tired with Asian and didn’t feel like sticking really close to home either, so wer decided to make a short drive up Wisconsin to Cactus Cantina.

Even though the place was packed and there were people waiting when we walked in, it was only a fifteen minute wait for a table outside. This gave us just enough time to unwind by the bar and sip a beer and watch a little football. Despite the crowdedness of the restaurant, our waitress arrived reasonably quickly after we sit down to replenish drinks and bring us some chips and salsa. Who says you can’t get good service in this town?

I had a cuban steak off the specials menu and Jay had tacos, preceded, of course, by some guacamole. This guac really wasn’t the star of the show–pretty bland, not amazing tasting, and was accompanied by some interesting things, like shredded cheese and olives, and an inedible slice of a green pepper (random!), and wasn’t chunky enough for me and didn’t have enough tomatoes or onion … and now I digress–but it was still welcome. The salsa was actually very good and had a very distinctive mesquite flavor. The entrees came out fairly quickly as well, and we were attended frequently by our waitress. My steak came with a mound of diced onions and some kind of great oil-based sauce, and was amazingly tender. Jay’s fajitas were the better choice, though, and the tortillas were still warm from being freshly cooked. No dessert, we skipped it for ice cream.

All in all, this was a very satisfying meal, and I didn’t walk away cursing the service as has been the trend recently. I got to wear whatever I damn well pleased, and that was fine. I also got some good red meat and a frozen margarita and some Mexican beer. This isn’t the place to go for anything fancy, but it’s good casual fare.

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1 Response to “Cactus Cantina”


  1. 1 sydneyblue September 10, 2008 at 5:36 am

    Everywhere we have lived, we have enjoyed having a favorite place for casual but great Mexican food — the only location we were not able to have this option was for our four years in the Philadelphia suburbs. We really missed it then, even though Philadelphia has so much other great food! When we moved on from there were so happy to find another local Mexican food gem in our new hometown. We’ll have to try Cactus Cantina when we visit D.C. next …


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