Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mad Cactus

For several months, we have been questioning why there aren't any Mexican buffets. Recently, we passed by an "express lunch buffet" banner hanging at the Mad Cactus and had to check out the food that "made [them] famous."

We understand that buffets are often not as good as real food because there's only so much control over quality one can have over a dish sitting under a lamp, even at buffets where we have paid $30-40/person.

I do find buffets, when offered, an inexpensive way to explore how the restaurant is run without having to make a commitment.

On the day we went, for $6.75 we got:
- tortilla bowls, hard shell tacos, tortillas
- salad lettuce
- shredded lettuce
- jalapeno slices
- black olive slices
- diced tomatoes (mashed up)
- shredded cheese
- sour cream
- salsa
- celery sticks
- ranch dressing

Hot stuff:
- seasoned ground beef
- shredded chicken with peppers and onions
- cheese enchiladas
- enchiladas
- churros
- chipotle chicken wings
- refried beans
- rice pilaf

The plates were oval, 3" x 6" at the widest points, so I made 3 trips to the buffet, eating 1 scoop of cheese enchilada, 1 chicken wing, 1 scoop of rice, 1 hard shell taco, 1 soft taco, 1 churro.

It's hard to make melted cheese and corn tortillas look appetizing, especially sitting in a pan at a buffet. At any time there seemed to be 0-3 cheese enchiladas...flat, crusty, and spread out. I cut out a piece like I would lasagna. It tasted like, well, cheese and tortillas.

Each time I went up, the beef enchilada pan was empty. Bug was able to get some. Apparently, they were displayed 3-4 enchiladas to a pan, sliced in small bite-sized pieces. According to Bug, they were "edible," but "nothing to write home about."

The wings weren't bad considering they looked a bit leathery from sitting under a lamp. I am also not a big wings fan because of the skin+work to meat ratio. The batter was peppery.

If you love frozen tv dinner rice pilaf, you'll love their rice.

The shredded chicken for tacos was pretty tasty and what you'd expect since it was simmering in broth, onions, and peppers.

I'm sure the churros would have been great if they were fresh out of the fryer. Since we walked in at 12:45 p.m., an hour after they opened their buffet, they were hard-shelled, dark brown, 1" nuggets of dough. The texture was off, but they were edible - crunchy and sugary with a touch of cinnamon.

Service was poor. Bug ordered soda and saw the server in the area twice the entire time we were there. Once, 2/3 through the meal after he waved her down when his glass had been empty for 10 minutes, and the second time was to drop off the check, ignoring Bug's empty glass.

I'm not sure what we expected from a Mexican lunch buffet. Bug didn't feel the need to ever return.

- Cassaendra

Mad Cactus
9175 Pearl Rd
Strongsville, OH 44136-1401
(440) 234-7427

2 deep thoughts:

Anonymous 08 January, 2010 21:32  

The mad cactus is my favorite restaurant! They have amazing food and service!

Cassaendra 15 January, 2010 13:05  


I am all for small businesses, so I'm glad someone likes it there.

There are numerous Mexican places in our region so my husband is always looking for a(nother) great place; however, he is also a stickler for Mexican cuisine.

Thanks for stopping by.

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