Approximately a month ago, I was scrolling through TikTok when a video of a Mexican restaurant popped up on my feed. Not thinking anything of it, I watched the video only to find out that it was located right in New Brunswick. With the video showcasing the unique atmosphere and seemingly delicious food, I knew I had to try it. I added the video to my favorites, and the Fat Cactus Cantina made it to my list of must-tries near Rutgers.
When you walk into the Fat Cactus Cantina, immediately you’re greeted by the unique decor and an infectious atmosphere. The combination of lively music, traditional skulls and an open floor plan made the dining experience so much more enjoyable. I would have gone just to enjoy the ambiance that the restaurant exuded.
When we got to our table, our waitress Savannah was extremely helpful. She walked us through the menu, gave us her recommendations and explained how the create your own taco sheet worked. While a few of my hometown friends and I were still trying to decide what to get for our entreés, we decided to start with the flautas appetizer.
Flautas are a variation of a taquito. They are flour tortillas filled with meat, rolled and then deep fried. The flautas from Fat Cactus Cantina were made with pulled chicken, drizzled with an avocado crema and served with a side of queso. Visually, the plate we were presented with was beautiful.
You could see the golden-brown crispiness of the flauta, and when I bit into it, the crunch absolutely lived up to my expectations. The chicken inside had a pleasant seasoning, and the queso was a great dipping sauce to compliment the flautas. The crunchiness of the tortilla and the tenderness of the chicken balanced each other out quite nicely.
For my entreé, I decided to try their “Create Your Own Taco” option. They have 13 different protein options, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free varieties, along with a wide assortment of toppings, cheeses and sauces.
I decided to do three tacos, corn tortillas, pico de gallo, cilantro, lime, lettuce and sour cream. For my proteins, I did regular chicken for one taco, chicken tinga for another and then chicken al pastor for the third. I also did different cheeses with each taco — one with Monterey jack, one with cheddar jack and the last with queso fresco.
All three of my tacos were fantastic. Each type of chicken was excellently seasoned, and although they had similar flavor profiles, they had enough variation that made each taco different yet enjoyable. The other toppings in the tacos balanced the flavors of the chicken while adding great contrasting flavors. The fresh squeeze of lime as a finishing touch was so refreshing and brought everything together perfectly.
Out of the three kinds of cheese, my favorite by far was the queso fresco. The crumbly yet creamy factor of it melted in my mouth and was nicely incorporated into the taco. Overall, everything within the taco worked in unison, and it was all that I could have hoped for in a taco.
For dessert, I was dying to try the churros. I am a huge churro fan and practically every time I go to Costco, I have to get their $1 churro. The churros at Fat Cactus Cantina were fried to golden-perfection and had a generous amount of cinnamon sugar.
Along with them came two different types of dipping sauces. The chocolate sauce was a standard Hershey’s-syrup-tasting sauce. It was a suitable thickness and added a nice touch to the churros, but it tasted like your average chocolate dipping sauce.
I am not sure what the other sauce was, but I loved it. It was a sort of milky-based sauce with flavors of cinnamon and cloves. I thought it emphasized the flavors of the cinnamon-sugar coating really well without overpowering the churro itself.
While the food was delicious, this authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex fusion restaurant is on the pricier side. The Flauta appetizer was $10.95, two of my tacos were $5.25 each, with the third being $5.55 and the churros were $8.49. Although the appetizer was affordable since we split it three ways and it came out to less than $4 per person, the tacos were expensive.
I have gone to other Mexican restaurants where I have paid less than $7 for three tacos, so to spend more than $5 on one taco alone is a bit much for me. Even though Fat Cactus Cantina does allow you to customize your toppings, it is still a bit pricey.
Despite the price, I will definitely be returning to Fat Cactus Cantina. Not only was the food phenomenal and the atmosphere intoxicating, but also the service was unmatched. Our waitress Savannah genuinely made the experience worthwhile. She took the time to give us her recommendations and make conversation with us while still being attentive to our table and the handful of other tables she was waiting on.
If you find yourself in New Brunswick, Fat Cactus Cantina on George Street is a must-try!
Cameron Delfino is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in journalism and media studies. His column, "Cameron's Crunch," runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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