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May 10, 2001 11:19 AM

Cactus Jack's

  • m

Anyone have an opinion on Cactus Jack's mexican restaurants in Westchester? I see there's one in Mohegan Lake. And that they won the Best of Westchester 2001 in Westchester Weekly.

Any comments on any of the other picks?

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  1. j
    Josh Mittleman

    I was dragged to the one in Elmsford for a business lunch. Blech. Extremely mediocre Americanized tex-mex.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Josh Mittleman
      Jonathan white, Cheesemaker

      The one in Mohegan is not much better, although the black bean soup is still memorable two years later.

      Good Mex is hard to find in these Northern Westchester parts: other then Azteca in Mount Kisco, I can;t think of another. And just forget about finding pozole or menudo, the two dishes definitive of authentic Mexican food.



      1. re: Josh Mittleman

        I've been to the Elmsford Cactus Jack's twice. Once was on a Saturday afternoon, when there were only about two other occupied tables. I thought the food was pretty good, especially compared to most of the other Mexican I've tried outside Mexico, Alta California and Texas. IIRC, I had a combination plate, and I was pretty impressed with what I had. I don't remember the specific items I ordered, aside from the refried beans and rice, which I liked, and the chile relleno, which wasn't that great.

        We went back on a Friday night a few weeks ago, based off that last experience. Bad idea. It basically turns into a bar scene, and there probably wasn't as much devotion to the food. Again, I got a combination plate, which included enchiladas suizas, tacos with beef, and something else, and nothing impressed me, not even the beans and rice.

        I truly hope that my taste in Tex-Mexican hasn't so fully devolved that I inflated in my mind how good that first meal was, but I don't think that's the case. Maybe it has something to do with the time, maybe not. I am still searching for really good Mexican in this area (I moved up here ~6 months ago), though, so if someone else knows of something, please clue me in. I've also tried Mariachi Loco in Hartsdale/WP, which is certainly not bad, considering I've only done take-out there.

        I should also mention that I don't put much stock at all in any magazine or newspaper's "Best of XXX" lists. I've witnessed issues covering LA, Orange Co. (CA), and Philly, which have lauded mediocre, but trendy places (some of them chains, to boot), completely missing some truly great local food. I would imagine the "Best of Westchester" would not be any different.

        1. re: Josh Mittleman
          Bryant Frazer

          I used to go to Cactus Jack's in Elmsford when I was really jonesing for Mexican and didn't feel like driving 20 minutes to Coyote Flaco in Port Chester, which is terrific. Nowadays, though, we go to the tiny Mex dive a few blocks south of Cactus Jack on the east side of 9A (but still north of 119). Can't remember what it's called, but it's set up in a tiny space where a diner used to be and the enchilada plate is delicious -- very similar to the stuff that Mariachi Loco in Hartsdale serves up these days. Not a lot of variety, but the basic dishes are pretty good.

          But for Mexican, Coyote Flaco remains our Westchester favorite. MaryAnn's, also in Port Chester, is cheaper and will do in a pinch (or for an inexpensive lunch). There's another Flaco in Larchmont or someplace.

          Don't even get me started on the Santa Fe in Tarrytown. I mean, ick, if you ask me.


          1. re: Bryant Frazer
            Josh Mittleman

            Yeah, Santa Fe is a constant disappointment. However, it's comfortable with children and anything better is a lot further from home. We've learned to order very carefully. Their conchita pibil is OK and their mixed grill is good, especially if you add the chipotle sauce. The cactus quesadilla makes a decent appetizer.

            Have your tried La Puerta in Ossining? Jim reported several months ago that it was good.