I spotted this restaurant on my way back from the skytrain station and thought it looked kind of nice, so on our last night in Vancouver we decided to give it a try. Because of its name I was expecting something Mexican, but instead the menu offers an interesting selection of eclectic dishes, many of which were created by renowned chef Rob Feenie. You can also get more casual dishes like burgers, fajitas and salads, all prepared with a little twist. So basically, you get a fine dining experience at a really good price and in a very casual atmosphere. The cocktail and martini list is pretty extensive, and the wine list also features several West Coast specialties that are available by the bottle or by the glass. I got Rob's goat cheese and feta flatbread, which I really enjoyed, and service was excellent from start to finish, which all made for a great dining experience. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this place to someone staying in the Richmond area, and there's also another Cactus Club Cafe located in Yaletown for those staying in downtown Vancouver.
So, this restaurant has been around Vancouver a long time, and I'd read that the chef is the only Iron Chef winner in Canada - or something like that. So my friend and I checked out the location on Davie in Yaletown.
My expectations were probably a little high, and it was fine, but with all the good food in Vancouver, I wouldn't go back.
The starters were good - actually I really enjoyed the pork lettuce wraps.
I had their special salmon and it was like eating Salmon in an area where they are not known for seafood. Overcooked. But it wasn't so bad I couldn't eat it.
My friend got a pork dish and it was much better. Who'd have thought?
The Cactus Club Cafe is a nice little chain restaurant (they have locations in several places in Western Canada) that runs on a refreshing West Coast/Californian type menu. The food is good, service is decent and the decor is significantly more imaginative than your average chain restaurant with grossly overstated wall decor that includes a buffalo head at one location, and very colourful "Boom Pow" comics on the walls at another.
For an average priced meal in a stylish place, this fits the bill
Note: They also have their own beer brewed for the restaurant, and it is pretty decent beer. Try it out
Favorite Dish: The quesadillas are quite good, and the yam fries go well with it!:)
It's funny... over the course of fifteen years, I went from loving the Cactus Club (when I was 12) to despising everything it stood for (when I was 20), to having a healthy appreciation for what it offers. And I think this is less telling of my moods, but moreso telling of the evolution of this restaurant's identity and standards over these years.
In the early 90's, the Cactus Club sprang from an ex-Earl's employee's ambition to create a hip new restaurant, or so the story goes. They had these cartoon cows as their logo, complete with the tacky cactus motif. I don't know if they were trying to go for the Texas or South-western ranch look or what. It was funky and sassy for the early 90's - a decade that hadn't yet found its identity yet. The Cactus Club served burgers, fajitas, and California-inspired mediocre pub cuisine. It was like an unthreatening pub-style restaurant where everyone could go.
At the turn of the millenium the Cactus Club seemed to shift away from its south-western theme of cows and cactuses, and instead started to become the hangout for teenage and 20-something jocks. I started to feel that the Cactus Club was unethical. I started to notice that people only dined there because it was a one way meat market where guys just came so they could oogle the waitresses. Apparently the waitresses were hired based solely on looks, and there were rumours that the managers would fire female employees once they reached the age of 25... or so the stories went. I never wanted to dine there again.
Then in recent years, I noticed that almost all chain restaurants in Vancouver hire their waitresses based on looks, and realized that the Cactus Club had changed quite a deal since the last time I went. They were no longer focusing on the generic, but had developed really cozy, low-lit interiors and really interesting sophisticated menus. This was a complete 180 from the Cactus Club of my childhood.
Favorite Dish: The pistachio-encrusted halibut really, really impressed me. It was served with green beans, mashed potatoes and a Thai red curry sauce. They had a generous chunk of roast halibut with really finely-chopped pistachios that had been oven-roasted.
Cactus Club Cafe is a Vancouver based chain of restaurants. There are several locations in Greater Vancouver. My personal favorite is the location in Coquitlam.
The Coquitlam restaurant has very unique decor and is well worth the visit. In the summer, the outside patio with a beautiful fountain is a must see.
Favorite Dish: I love the calamari starter, but my favorite is the xxx Brownie dessert. Yum!
The Cactus Club Cafe describes itself as a "Global Dining Lounge" and in fact you can find many international dishes on their menu. The nicest thing about them, though, is that they really make an effort to use local ingredients; it shows in their food. The atmosphere of restaurant is fun, very high energy. They have seating outdoors in the summer which is great for people watching. Their bar is also a very cool place to hang out, making your wait for a table not such a bad thing.
Favorite Dish: I had a shrimp dish here that was amazing, but my favorite were the bloody marys, or bloody caesars as the call them in Canada. They were just SO good.
The Cactus Club Cafe is one of my favorites - great atmosphere and people make this upbeat restaurant fun and always a pleasure for casual dining.
Now if a formal seafood dining experience is what you want, then we would recommend the Cannery on Burrard Inlet.
Favorite Dish: Hot wings at the Cactus Club, and any of the seafood at the Cannery
As their slogan says, they ensure that the guest is pampered...yet they are not always in your face. A "combination" atmosphere which includes a fireplace, tv's for watching sports and white linen tables.
Favorite Dish: You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, so I decided to try the Ranch Steak Fajita (soft flour tortillas, mixed cajun vegetables, black beans, lettuce, guacamole and marinated Certified Angus Beef ranch steak). A nice cold Udder Ale is the perfect partner for this meal.
FUNKY decor (especially in the solarium) and HOT servers (male and female).
Public juke box...torture your fellow diners with classics from the 1980s!
The bathrooms...I know, it's weird, but the Cactus has the coolest cans in Vancouver (although, with the new Cactus at Broadway and Ash, they've got some competition)
Favorite Dish: Love that Zone Salad!! Where has the linguine pescatore gone???
Can't resist the row of slushy machines behind the bar constantly stirring those boozy bellinis and the like. mmmm :-)
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