Na-cho Average Nachos, Blue Cactus (Ottawa)

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So, this post will be short yet hopefully pithy enough to get you to try the Blue Cactus nachos. Ryan and I started to come here after his parents mentioned their half-priced fajitas. We always sit in the front, which is considered part of the “bar area” although it is away from the bar and nestled amongst floor-to-ceiling windows. In fact, you only get the discounted appetizers and “bar rails” (for West Coasters this is like a highball!) if you sit in this area or at the bar. In my opinion, sitting by windows where you can people watch is much more desirable than sitting in a booth in a dark corner near the washroom … and it happens to be a bonus that you then become eligible for cheap food. That’s just me, though – maybe I’m weird. Anywho, after frequenting this place a few times, it has come to be affectionally known as “The Cacker” in D & R lingo (don’t ask – we seem to effortlessly make up odd nicknames for almost everything). Lately, we have been coming to the Cacker on Saturday afternoons, prior to perusing The Hudson Bay sales at Rideau. I know, we are turning into Ryan’s parents. And we are OK with that – in fact, we embrace the routine …. It’s either Darcy’s or The Cacker for appies and drinks. In the summer, it tends to be places with patios (clearly!)

So back to the menu items. We have tried the calamari and wings and ribs, and they are all OK, but nothing to write home about. However, the nachos at Blue Cactus (which are $8 rather than $14 if you sit where we do) are pretty darn delicious. While it was initially the discounted price that drew my husband’s attention to the appy list here, the nachos have now become a favorite regardless of price (well, almost regardless of price). On this note, I should mention that my husband is half Scottish and would seriously walk 5 miles in torrential weather for a deal on something he doesn’t even want. This is simultaneously one of his greatest attributes and also the impetus for some questionable meal-buying decisions (i.e. supersize the meal even if you don’t want any of it.)

Now that you know my dearest Ryan a little better, back to the main topic. The nachos here are worth much more than $8. The plate is huge, the cheese is real and plentiful AND most importantly; layered throughout. There are hot peppers and veggies and chipotle sour cream drizzled atop the pile of crispy deliciousness. Oh, and don’t forget guacamole and pico de gallo salsa (not the canned stuff). The two most important nacho-attributes: (1) They are BAKED with the ingredients on them (2) the toppings are LAYERED throughout so you will not get a naked tortilla chip. That is the worst. THE WORST!

Haha .. maybe this post is not as short as I intended, but whatever. I’m enjoying a glass of Californian meritage and it’s 6:20pm on a Saturday night. Sue me.

Summary: If you like over-priced, semi-naked tortilla chips and chinsy toppings that break the bank but don’t satisfy the taste buds, DON’T COME HERE.

EDIT: We actually tried something different when we went today (Feb 15/14) and our picks were surprisingly NOT from the appy (read: cheap) menu though still very reasonable ($16 each). Let me tell you, we were NOT disappointed! Ryan had the bacon burger and fries and I had the California salad with steak (cooked medium rare). His burger was the best burger I’ve had second to homemade; the patty was hand formed, chargrilled, thick, perfectly seasoned and moist without being greasy. The cheese and bacon were quality, and the bun was also perfect, soft and fresh (not a store bought burger bun). The fries were shoestring sized, like McDonald’s. I think they are fried from fresh, and if not, they taste like it. My salad was beautiful. They brought me a steak knife prior to delivering the dish, which was very exciting (and made me anticipate a nice cut of meat). The steak was cooked perfectly and the serving size was generous. It was sliced, but not completely separated into pieces (leaving the juices inside but making the cutting process easier). The salad was topped with avocado, lots of toasted walnuts, cherry tomatoes, shaved cheddar and hard boiled eggs. The buttermilk ranch dressing and tortilla chip slivers were also tasty. Overall we would highly recommend both options and DEFINITELY will be going back for something other than (the amazing) nachos. Their sandwiches and other burger varieties sound succulent as well ….. Can’t wait to return!

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