There’s something quite convincing about this tourist-friendly homage to the Tex-Mex saloon. It certainly isn’t due to the décor, which leans heavily on plastic cacti, bogus wagon-wheels and cowboy-hatted waitresses, but the atmosphere is spot on. 6 Reviews
There’s something quite convincing about this tourist-friendly homage to the Tex-Mex saloon. It certainly isn’t due to the décor, which leans heavily on plastic cacti, bogus wagon-wheels and cowboy-hatted waitresses, but the atmosphere is spot on. It’s vaguely menacing when you walk in (if there were a honky-tonk pianist playing, he’ll stop, turn round and stare at you) then raucously entertaining after a couple of drinks, which, when it comes to tequila and other spirits, you can buy by the bottle.
Starters reveal that CJ’s brash charm also, at times, extends to its food. A hearty portion of buffalo wings, smothered in cartoonishly tangy citrus sauce, come served with a blue cheese dressing; while the coconut-rolled prawn fritos are greasy and crunchy enough to satisfy the most ravenous cowboy. Main courses are more questionable. The ‘ranch steak’ is about as authentically Tex-Mex as a London bus – a bland slab of meat with a cluster of lame vegetables and chips. It’s only rescued from total anonymity by a pot of sweet, orange ranchero sauce. You’re on safer ground, it seems, if you order the obvious fare at CJ’s. Chicken and steak combo fajitas are masterfully indulgent, with great piles of meat and sweet roasted vegetables accompanied by dollops of every imaginable Mexican sundry from refried beans to spicy salsa; spread over three plates. You’ll be barely able to make a dent in it all. Such Herculean portions leave you more in the mood for a siesta than a dessert, but the apple chimichanga – a slim, cinnamon-rich pastry-and-apple dessert – defies expectation by being crisply enjoyable, luminous blue pecan ice cream notwithstanding. The same can’t be said for the fresh fruit salad, which (in a transparent cost-cutting measure) is composed almost entirely of watery honeydew melon.
The food at Cactus Jack’s treads a shaky line between the indulgent and the unpleasant, and service remains lamentably inattentive. Yet for some rollicking, boisterous post-work fun and a bottle or two of tequila, it’s an honest place to get your rocks off.
By TimeOut Dubai
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