Cactus Club’s burgers are in the running for Vancouver’s Best Burger
Yes, the waitresses are often missing parts of their anatomy…from a heart to those sections of the brain that control the sense sense of humour and the smile response. Sometimes, the waitresses lack certain characteristics, like compassion, friendliness, and the ability to give a shit. But what I think is worse is when, on top of this, they aren’t even cute…or—God forbid—you get a waiter. I mean, who goes to Cactus Club for the cute, effeminate male servers? No one I know.
And yes, some menu items are uninspired, to say the least. Some dishes make you wish you’d stayed at home and had that box of Kraft Dinner that’s been sitting at the back of your cupboard for the last 4 years. Other dishes just try too hard and yet still fail. I’m looking at you, “RF Butternut Squash Ravioli.” Uck. Too sweet!
But one thing that Cactus Club really does right—besides its washrooms—is its burgers and sandwiches. I honestly believe that Cactus Club’s burgers are some of the best in Vancouver.
A couple of years ago, the Market Crossing location opened and, I have to say, it quickly became my favourite Cactus Club restaurant, mostly because I hate all the other locations. The waitresses are the least snobby of the Cactus Club crews and many are genuinely friendly (shocking, I know). They have a great patio that is spacious and sophisticated, with a variety of seating options, from a lounge area around a fire pit to booths for both small and large groups. There is an impressive water feature and plenty of heaters, blankets, and pillows to keep you comfortable. Basically, if you are going to go to Cactus Club, then this is the one to visit.
Recently, we met our friend Mike for dinner at the Market Crossing location. The waitress was beautiful, yet bubbly. The drinks were loaded. The food was good. I think the trick is to keep it simple. If I stick to the burgers and sandwiches, I leave happy. If I venture into more complex territory, I’m left feeling ambivalent at best, dissatisfied at worst.
During this particular visit, I ordered the J.D. BBQ Burger, “seasoned angus chuck patty with jack daniels’ bbq sauce,” for $13. I added yam fries for an extra buck-fifty. The burger patty was filled with herbs and spices and while it was well done, it was not overdone. The meat was thick, juicy, and delicious. The soft bun was toasted. The smokey, not too sweet BBQ sauce dripped all over my hands as I ate. The combination of ingredients creates a Total Flavour Package that delivers a satisfying burger again and again.
Big Man went for the Cajun Chicken Sandwich— “charbroiled cajun chicken with melted aged cheddar cheese”—with the regular sea-salted fries, for $13. He had no complaints. I took a bite and the chicken breast was moist and flavourful, but not enough to pull me away from my beef addiction. The regular fries are just regular fries; they’re not remarkable in any way.
While dazzling us with tales of Singledom that shocked, awed, horrified, and fascinated us, Mike picked away at his Blackened Creole Chicken in spicy Creole butter, with smooth and creamy mashed potatoes, and a side of asparagus. It looked delicious and was reasonably priced at $20.25. However, I tend to regret getting the mains at Cactus Club, so I did not have buyer’s remorse as I continued to eat my burger during Mike’s storytelling.
Little Man got his usual, the Mini Burgers, which are three sliders with bacon, cheddar, tomato, and red pepper relish, for $11.75. He passed on anything resembling a vegetable, including the relish, and added ketchup and mustard. I wonder if he realizes that ketchup is made from tomatoes? These sliders would be quite tasty under normal circumstances, but after Little Man laid waste to their original flavour package, I can’t say much except that the mini burger patties, although small, are still very juicy.
But the post doesn’t stop here. Oh no, surely not.
Yesterday, Big Man and I decided to celebrate my husband’s recent career change and, specifically, his first day on set. We were going to go for a nice dinner, but after spending all morning running errands and finding ourselves starving after shopping through lunch, we decided to have Linner—or, as my husband likes to call it, Dinch—at Cactus Club.
It was an unusally bright and beautiful September day and we sat on the patio. I ordered a double Brazilian for $10.75, which holds no candle to the corner suite‘s Caipairinha, but was still pretty tasty with lots of kiwi and lime pulp and a decent amount of booze.
My husband ordered an $8.75 Kavorka, which was absolutely delicious, but not particularly boozy.
Big Man ordered Rob Feenie’s The Burger, which comes with “aged cheddar cheese, cured bacon, sautéed mushrooms, red pepper relish” for $14.50. He added yam fries for $1.50.
I took a bite and this burger was just as good as, if not even possibly better than, the J.D. BBQ Burger. The big, juicy patty was slightly pink in the middle. The burger was piled high with mushrooms. Just look at all those mushrooms!
I ordered the Rob Feenie BBQ Duck Clubhouse for $17.50, with yam fries for an extra $1.50. A waiter had once suggested this to me, claiming that this was his favourite item on the menu, but the description just didn’t sound appealing to me. It took me a while to agree to spend nearly $20 on a sandwich, but I finally tried this marvelous sandwich. It has BBQ duck, pan-seared chicken, and crisp prosciutto on pecan fruit bread. There is just something about how the saltiness of the duck, the savory-ness of the chicken, and the sweetness of the fruity bread come together…it is a Taste Sensation. It was so good that I nearly inhaled the sandwich. The waitress came by a few minutes after the food was served to ask, “How are the first few bites?” I pointed at my half-empty plate in shame and said, “The first few bites were obviously delicious.”
The sandwich pairs with the yam fries perfectly. While Cactus Club’s fries are mundane, the yam fries are always delicious and the dipping sauce—a sweet chipotle mayo, perhaps?—is divine.
For a chain restaurant, Cactus Club is pretty good, as long as you stick to the burgers and sandwiches section of the menu. I have yet to be disappointed by their scrumptious sandwiches or their beefy burgers.
Cactus Club Cafe
7320 Market Crossing