TNT Diner

Seattle-based Cactus has opened its Tacoma restaurant. Here are menus and more details

The dining room of Cactus, a Southwestern restaurant now open in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood.
The dining room of Cactus, a Southwestern restaurant now open in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood. skidd@thenewstribune.com

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.

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Find Cactus in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

“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.

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The dining room of Cactus, a Southwestern restaurant now open in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

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.

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The dining room of Cactus, a Southwestern restaurant now open in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

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.

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The bar of Cactus, a Southwestern restaurant now open in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

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.

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Sue Kidd has been The News Tribune’s restaurant critic since 2008. She dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all meals. Sue is a South Sound native. She writes about new restaurants, openings and closures and knows where to find the best tacos in every neighborhood.


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