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“Cactus, Kailua, Oahu -- We'll be back”
Review of Cactus

Cactus
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Ranked #24 of 145 Restaurants in Kailua
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $8 - $25
Cuisines: Brazilian, Chilean, Latin, Mexican
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Outdoor Seating, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Hamakua Drive
Transit: Bus 57
Description: Cactus is "a celebration of the cuisines of the new Americas with Aloha," transporting the flavors, culinary traditions and techniques from Central and South America as well as Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico.Offering the cuisines of the sun, land and sea, Cactus menu selections focuses on:•Local produce from the islands•Shinsato Farms pork from Kahalu’u•Kulana and Kuahiwi beef, veal, wild boar from the Big Island•Sustainably caught or farmed seafood from the island chainDrop-in or reserve a table in our casual, convivial environment with warm, engaging, professional service.
Kailua, Hawaii
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
33 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Cactus, Kailua, Oahu -- We'll be back”
Reviewed August 24, 2012

My wife and I recently lunched at Cactus, which serves a mix of Central and South American dishes. Our first impression of Cactus -- reminds me of a Robert Irvine Restaurant Impossible makeover. Minimalist decor with pleasant yellow walls and lots of window space, creating a noon hour light, airy ambience. The food: for an appetizer we shared squash and goat cheese "Croquetas". "Excellent" -- we'll double the order next time. The entrees: My wife had a peruvian saute of beef sirloin with vegetables; we found this to be a bit greasy and rated this "good." I had the "Cubano" sandwich, with roast pork, bacon, avocado, cheese and pickled chiles--we both rated this sandwich as "very good." The wait staff were cheerful and efficient--and convenient parking at the restaurant is plus. Bottom line, we are looking forward to exploring Cactus' offerings further. (Website <www.cactusbistro.com>)

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank uilamaboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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183 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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    5
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Kailua, Hawaii
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Best of everything!”
Reviewed August 3, 2012

We live here and have been twice, and loved it everytime!. Excellent food, service and ambiance.
Light and airy, like a cute new bistro in Europe. The food is REALLY good, different menus with a european flair, and we like the fact that parking is not a problem!

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Kailuagramma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
oahu
Level 4 Contributor
38 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Disappointing food, disappointing price, and disappointing service.”
Reviewed July 28, 2012

Before I begin this review, I would like to say that I especially love food and all of its natural glories. I grew up with eating different types of foods, from Samoan, to Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese, Spanish, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Italian, Korean, and European foods, and I can say that I respect cultures and their cooks and their respect for keeping tradition, however, when it comes to this type of restaurant where a cook wants to create his interpretations of Latin dishes it fails, and loses my respect and interest.

My partner, father in law (whom both grew up in the Kailua area), and I were looking for a place to eat for dinner we were thinking about eating at our usual (latin - like eatery) however, we decided to try Cactus because we have been talking about it, and wondering what type of Latin food they served.

Fast forward, after driving around Kailua looking for somewhere good to eat, we decided on Cactus and walked in to the restaurant. If you are looking for a good view of the out-side, than you are out of luck as the restaurant is on the corner of Kailua Road and Hamakua, and you will be able to see a main intersection where cars, delivery trucks, skaters, bicyclist, and locals moving along. We went around 5:30pm and the sun was still up and literally hitting the small restaurant, so we decided to sit inside and avoid the car exhaust as well as the heat.

We got up to the reception desk and asked for a table, and this woman asked my group if we had a reservation because all of the tables are reserved. We looked around and there were only two groups sitting at two out of the 8 - 10 tables in the restaurant, and only 2 of the tables had a "reserved" card on the tables. And then, the woman asked if we would like to sit out-side, and I told her that we would prefer to sit inside as it is cooler, and then the woman asked if we would like to sit on the high-chairs, and we declined. My partner than asked to sit at a table and I could see that the woman was working through her own dilemma as she had this odd look on her face, and after making us wait while she traipsed around the small restaurant looking for a table to put my group on, she settled on a table that was right next to the kitchen and removed the "reserved" table card that was in the middle of it.

From this point on, we just wanted to get a menu and start looking for something to eat. We were all looking at the menu trying to figure out what was what as there was no key for the menu and neither of us recognized how this food was going to turn out.

So, finally our waitress stopped by out table to ask if we were ready to order, and I asked her "what type of food do you serve here" and she stated "our food is from all of the America's", I was thinking - what the heck? What does that even mean? From the interviews of the chef in the local newspapers and magazines, this restaurant is supposed to have food that represent Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexico, central, and south America. Our waitresses answers gave me a feeling that we were about to get a mash of all cultures and that no true flavor will present itself....and I was right.

I know Latin food, and I can tell you that this food was horrible and people are being cheated out of good tasting food that you can find elsewhere.

For appetizers, we ordered croquettes, which came very mushy, filled with zucchini, and hot sauce that over powered the dish. Surprisingly, the cilantro/olive oil sauce was great, however, it did not match the dish. (I get the croquettes as being "latin-like", but filling it with tasteless zucchini and mush, made me think that this was a rushed "go-to" dish for a cook and it failed.

My partners father had a steak dish around $20, my partner had this masa crusted chicken around $18, and I had enchiladas that had hamakua zucchini in it around $16.

Believe me, after a day of working, we were hungry and ready to dig in to our food.

Here's the gist of it, my partners masa crusted chicken was so dry that he wanted to ask for something to dip the chicken in. He said that it was bland, and that the beans the chicken sat upon should have had more flavor and less dry. He mentioned that the only flavor came from the cabbage that sat on-top of the chicken, however, it did not help that the rest of the dish was lacking.

My enchilada's were covered with a red sauce and a salsa verde, the verde was great, however, the sauces were so hot that all I could feel was the texture of the foods going into my mouth, but too hot to taste any of the foods on its own.

My father-in law said that his steak was good, but the side dishes had an odd texture, one had tomatoes in it and he said that it did not taste well, and the other looked like it was mixed collards and onions and lacking in flavor. The worst of it was that there were only 3 pieces of steak and that they were covered in fat....for $20 bucks, I say go to Mexico Lindo if you are in the area and get a carne asada plate with a drink (it will be worth it).

In closing, the quality of food was poor, and the price was too expensive for this...I wouldn't spend over $20 for all of this. It was disgusting and I will never go there again. The chef should probably stick to authentic Latin foods and maybe decide on choosing one type of food and go with it, as I think he has probably stretched himself too thin and used hot sauce to cover it up. It cost us $70.00 dollars for a meal and restaurant that didn't deserve it. I would not recommend this restaurant to anyone who is looking for something new, but more so for someone who doesn't mind the meager, tasteless portions, of "latin-like" interpretations. Two positive things that I can say about the restaurant is that it was clean and the beer was good.

  • Visited July 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank trueislandbeauty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kailua, Hawaii
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Class comes to Kailua”
Reviewed June 29, 2012

After living here for 9 years I am so pleased to find a restaurant of this quality in Hawaii, even better that it's in Kailua, my home town.

Unfortunately typical restaurants here are rated by the portion size rather than the quality of the food. But this restaurant isn't typical. For those who care, I found the portion sizes more than adequate - combined with a nice appetizer, no one left hungry.

We started with the Cactus Guacamole and the Squash and Goat Cheese Croquetas. The Guacamole came with fried tortilla chips and three salsas. This was my favorite, the ingredients were fresh, the salsas spicy enough to have flavor but not alienate my youngest daughter. The Croquetas were good, hot, and crispy. A little more squash came out than I like, but nonetheless, good stuff.

For main I had the crispy potato and taro croquetas. Delicious and well cooked. The strongest flavor is the sauces (in all the dishes, the sauces were very well done!). The croquetas were nicely crisp and the cheese and vegetable flavors worked together very well. (note: Taro can impart a rather odd color to things, the inside of the croquetas is a pale blue-grey, don't worry it's supposed to look like that!).

My wife had the Masa Crusted Chicken Breast. Too much animal matter for me to try, but she rated it high, again a special mention for the sauce.

Oldest daughter had the Wood Roasted Island Vegetable Enchilada. This is a stacked enchilada absolutely made by the sauces. They used both a red and green sauce - I loved the red sauce, subtle pepper taste with a good hint of smokiness.

Youngest daughter had Feijoada, essentially beans and rice. I did not get to taste this and she being an unadventurous type didn't have much to say about it.

Service was pretty good - only a minor issue in getting sprayed by the bus boy refilling waters.

The atmosphere is perhaps the low point, and it's not so much the interior (though we were there early and others have complained about the noise) - it's that the location sits right at a very busy corner and I found the traffic about 15ft from my table and out a big window to be distracting. I think a low curtain or some other sort of visual block would help a lot. I really liked the interior decor, clean and simple with subtle decoration - though this may account for the noise problems.

Cactus is our new "special occasions" restaurant and we will be back!

Oh, reservations are recommended - it's a small place and very busy for the Thursday night we were there.

  • Visited June 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank spoggle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kaneohe, Hawaii, United States
1 review
“Surprisingly Healthy but Disappointingly Loud”
Reviewed June 20, 2012

We went last week with friends for dinner. The food was better than I had hoped for. The flavors were very different - South American, with emphasis on vegetables, light on meat and cheese. The portions are on the small side, but it is a Tapas style menu. And I don't think it was expensive, even for the portion size.

The bar was extremely slow the night we went. I'll assume they're working that out. The big thing was the noise, which we were also told was being addressed soon. We'll go back in another month and try it again.

I'd recommend it and we'll be semi-regulars. KUDOS!

  • Visited June 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Tom N Beth S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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