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Mar 12, 2001 11:56 PM

Ate at Cactus again the other day...

  • k

...which reinforced my previous experience: Go for the tapas and margaritas, don't bother with the entrees or desserts.

The appetizer I ordered from the tapas menu was really good--sauteed scallops with serrano ham in a spicy chili/tomato(?) sauce, served with bread for dipping. The entree was...okay. It was their version of pork adobo: a marinated pork chop (a bit overcooked and tough) with salsa fresca, perched atop a big-ass cube of tortilla somethingorother (read: polenta on steroids) and surrounded by a pool of chili sauce.

For dessert, I had flan for the first time in prolly twenty years. It was good, but *very* sweet. (Custard with caramel sauce? Hel-lo! Can we have a little contrast here, please? Maybe a little fruit? Or something tart?)

Good margaritas, though...

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  1. Anyone have an idea of where to get some authentic tapas? It seems that people take a pretty liberal definition of what tapas is in this country, been to Tango and the place on 1st by Pike Market and their tapas was terrible and nothing like what you would get in Spain. I figure if you're going to ignore the cultural aspects why call it tapas? Looking for stuff like patatas bravas, chorizo, jamon (cut from the leg that's covered in mold!) shrimp & chicken in garlic like in a Spanish tapas bar. Sad that this trendy nonsense is giving people the wrong idea about Spanish cuisine.

    6 Replies
    1. re: David Blair

      Go to Western Vine---this is where you can get the real deal. see the link below.


      1. re: sonja

        thanks, I put it on my Spring Break list.

        1. re: Betty

          The Harvest vine is a gem. I've had tapas there that were better than what I've had in Spain. More expensive too.

          Dale Lindsley

          1. re: Dale
            Christine Ll.

            Tapas is becoming a mis-used term, and in my mind should only refer to appetizers or small dishes originating in Spain. Otherwise, they should just be called appetizers!

            Most authentic everyday tapas: Marcha on First Ave in Seattle

            Best "high-end" authentic tapas: Harvest Vine, hands-down

      2. re: David Blair

        What, exactly, is tapas for those of us (or maybe just me)who don't really know? I've heard it described as small bites or appetizers. What is patatas bravas? I've never been to Spain and would like to be educated so that my time and money isn't wasted. What would someone who frequents Spain or is Spanish eat and enjoy?

        1. re: anita

          Tapas could range from appetizers to an entire meal. It can be anything from a cheese plate or an olive plate to omelletes, chorizo or empanadas.

          Part of the joy of tapas is that you can enjoy several flavors in one meal.

          David, Harvest Vine in Madison Park and Andaluca in the Mayflower Hotel are alternatives to Tango or Marcha.

      3. I really wish I could figure out what all the fuss is about----I think Cactus sucks and it has every time I've ever been. The last straw was some fake smoked tomato sauce (tasted like tomato paste mixed with liquid smoke--gag). And the margaritas? Nothing special. what's the deal?

        1 Reply
        1. re: sonja

          I think most of the fuss is due to herd mentality and the lack of decent Mexican/southwest food in the area. I go there because it's walking distance from my apartment and I can only go to the Attic so often. I will heartily agree that it's not as good as people seem to think it is--like I said, I've tried a number of their entrees and have been disappointed almost all of the time. So it's a question of finding the few things they're good at (some of the tapas) and sticking with that.

          As for the margaritas--admittedly I can make 'em better at home, but they still seem to be better than most of the ones I've gotten elsewhere.

          In my opinion, the real "why bother?" restaurant in Madison Park is Bing's.