Cactus Southwest Kitchen + Bar, the Seattle-based Southwestern restaurant, officially has opened its Proctor location in Tacoma.
The restaurant operated a few limited-hour soft openings Thursday through Sunday, but the restaurant began operating with full hours serving lunch and dinner beginning Monday (April 15).
The restaurant is located at the base of Madison 25, the new retail-residential building next door to Metropolitan Market.
This is the sixth location for the company that was founded in 1990 by Marc and Bret Chatalas.
The brothers grew up in Bellevue and come from a restaurant family that also owns Lowell’s, the legendary Pike Place Market restaurant. The brothers grew up working in that restaurant.
Coming to Tacoma was a long-planned expansion.
“It starts with the long history of customers saying, ‘When are you going to open down south?’” said Marc Chatalas last year when the brothers announced Tacoma would be their next location. It’s their first Cactus outside King County. Other King County locations span from Alki Beach to Bellevue Square.
They looked for two years for the ideal Tacoma location for their Southwestern-themed restaurant with a menu that has everything from New Mexico-style stacked enchiladas to classic Tex-Mex.
The space at Madison 25 was just what they wanted. The Proctor neighborhood reminded them of the neighborhoods surrounding their Madison Park and Kirkland restaurants.
“It’s a great retail area and lots of families, lots of good restaurants. Ultimately, we felt we’d fit in,” said Chatalas last year.
The Proctor dining area is large at 5,000 square feet, but it’s broken into smaller spaces with one dining room split off to the right of the front entry and a bar to the back left of the restaurant. There’s another dining area that faces Proctor Street.
On first glance, diners might think this is a Mexican restaurant, but the menu is tightly focused on the cuisine found in the Southwestern United States.
While much of the food, because of its proximity, is influenced by Mexican ingredients and techniques, Southwest cuisine is considered its own dining category and cooking genre that comes with its own techniques and ingredients.
Explained Chatalas, “Southwestern cuisine is known for its use of spices, chile peppers and large cuts of meat, pork and beef, and so, when you look at our menu, you see those items that do define Southwestern cuisine.”
Tacoma diners will finally get access to Southwestern ingredients that simply are not on menus here in Pierce County, such as dishes made with classic Southwestern blue corn tortillas and hatch chiles.
The menu lists regional Southwest favorites, such as queso with housemade chorizo ($9) and Navajo fry bread ($5). Cactus also specializes in stacked enchiladas as they’re made in Santa Fe — layered with blue corn tortillas ($14 to $17). The New Mexico green chile soup is made with hatch chiles and served with a side of housemade corn masa sopas ($5 to $9). The menu also lists three kinds of fresh-made guacamole ($8 to $11).
Prices for large plates are quite affordable for the style and quality of food and the stylish plating at this higher-end restaurant. Find entrees in the $14 to $22 range, with most of those priced around $15 to $16. Appetizers are priced $5 to $12.
The drinks menu spans two pages and includes a number of tequila-based elixirs ($9 to $12). The tequila by-the-shot list has 35 choices of anejo, reposado and blanco tequilas ($7 to $25 each), plus three options for tequila flights ($15 to $25). The mezcal lists 10 varieties of that spirit ($7 to $16), plus two mezcal flight choices ($25 to $28).
Here’s something Proctor diners will love. You’ve got one more breakfast option at Cactus. The restaurant intends to start serving brunch this weekend, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Warning: The restaurant has been slammed since its soft openings began Thursday. Expect a wait for a table at peak dining times.
Cactus Southwest Kitchen + Bar
Where: 2506 N. Proctor St., Tacoma
Info: 253-458-9900 or cactusrestaurants.com/location/proctor/
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 3-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.