If nothing else, Cactus could at least benefit from a name change. The vibe at this South Loop traders-and-drinkers outpost is far more tropical than American Southwestern. Maybe the moniker “Caribbean” was taken. In any event, Cactus stands out among its grittier South Loop neighbors as a cavernous, irreverent, fun-loving place with a comfortable bar and sunny patio during warmer months.
The huge, warehouse-style layout is loud and echo-ey; multiple TVs blaring sports put the kibosh on any deep conversation inspired by multiple afternoon beers. You'll find the standard selection of domestics and imports, and you can't beat the Tuesday specials: 50-cent Miller drafts and $3 pitchers.
I’m hesitant to fall for anything pegging itself as a “famous” cocktail, as Cactus claims its margaritas to be—especially when they come straight from a machine. My hesitance didn’t extend to the menu, however; the grill-fired wings were well-sized and well-spiced, and the solid kick from the "world famous" Death Valley Sauce pleased my admittedly picky wing palate.
My $4 High Life went down well with the heat of the wings, as I'm sure it would with the other sandwiches, salads and sides available. You can order to go if you need to escape with some chow, and the aforementioned Death Valley Sauce is on sale as well. Some of the gentlemen amongst you may also be interested in feasting their eyes on the short-skirted, tiny-shorted female staff members.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Karl Klockars