Iron Cactus takes Traditional Mexican Food and adds Modern Flair
The Iron Cactus Mexican Grill & Margarita Bar, noted as one of the best Mexican restaurants in downtown, is located on the famous San Antonio River Walk directly across from the Omni La Mansion del Rio. Iron Cactus’ chef takes traditional Mexican dishes and gives them a modern flair while adding contemporary flavors you may just be surprised to find here. This restaurant draws the inspiration for its menu from various regions across Mexico, dishes that may have you asking, “Is this Mexican food? ” Don’t be surprised to find shrimp or tuna incorporated into enchiladas, tacos and fajitas. While dishes like the Pork Tamale Pops with moist pork, flavorful tamale masa, pepper jack or the Three Chile Pork Loin with three chile demi-glace, green chile bacon mash & seasonal vegetables do offer a slight suggestion towards south of the border goodness, most of their menu will bring in Latin flavors with sometimes more than a hint of diversity.
The Iron Cactus also houses the swanky Cactus Room Bar that really comes alive with Happy Hour. This top shelf bar is known for unique tequila infused creations and over 100 premium tequilas you can sip or have mixed into margaritas and Mexican martinis. They use the freshest juices, herbs, and produce as well as house made syrups to make their cocktails. This assures you a great drink every time. Stop in the bar before dinner and give their Puro Verde Old Fashioned a try. Made with Puro Verde Añejo tequila instead of whiskey, Angostura Bitters and simple syrup, this Old Fashioned offers no taste of sweetness so it won’t affect your appetite. The flamed orange peel gives it the Old Fashioned nod.
New on the appetizer menu is the Crab-Stuffed Jalapeños. These fiery peppers pack a punch with heat so I am thankful they were a medium size. Larger would have been overwhelming for this foodie. The panko crust gave them lots of crunch and the crabmeat in a lobster cream sauce helped to combat the fire. This is a great tasting botana but not for the faint of heart.
A new selection on the salad menu is the Grilled Romaine Salad. I highly recommend this one! Slightly wilting the Romaine over the grill does something interesting to the taste of the lettuce. That mild smoky flavor was totally unexpected. The greens didn’t lose their crunchy texture like you would think either. Adding to the delight of the salad was grape tomatoes, thick crumbled bacon, candied pecans, feta cheese and jalapeños cheese croutons all dressed in a fresh, light vinaigrette. This could be a meal in itself. Add some protein like; chicken, steak, salmon or pepper-crusted tuna and it becomes a super main-stay.
The Mexican Meatloaf is more like a thick grilled steak. Mixing angus sirloin with chorizo and bacon and adding ranchero sauce gives it moistness and flavor you won’t want to pass up. Adding more complexity to the dish is the chile bacon mash. A cup of smoky, sweet Mexican Street Corn topped with Mexican crema brings this one home.
This dish goes nicely with the Smoked Sage margarita. The smoked sage of this Dobel Humito cocktail mixed with Patrón Citrónge enhance the savoriness of the whole dish. And with the hickory seasoned rim, it becomes a perfect match.
The Pollo Relleno is loaded with flavor and for good reason. These chicken breasts are stuffed with poblano peppers giving it the robust flavor, corn & onions giving it texture and cornbread holding it all together. The jalapeño cream sauce along with pico de gallo spices it up gently for the south of the border flavor we are seeking. Served with a side of Mexican rice and asparagus adds traditional alongside contemporary on the plate. When I told the chef I loved this new selection, he said it isn’t exactly new! It had been on the menu before, but when they took it off, customers raised a ruckus, as it was a favorite dish. So it is now back by overwhelmingly popular demand. It pays to speak up!!
I recommend a good clean margarita to pair with this one. Something like the Oaxacan Dead (I liked the name too). The orgeat (almond liquor) gives it a slightly bitter taste countered by the slight sweet of passion fruit. The combination of El Mayor tequila and Wahaka Espadin Mezcal make it a margarita. This cocktail enhances the tastes of the chicken poblano.
After any of these dishes you are going to be pretty full. But if you simply must have some dolce before you leave, let me suggest the Frozen Patrón XO Café. This way you get coffee, sweet, and cold all at the same time. (You will appreciate the latter if you are vising Iron Cactus during the hot summer months.) There are many flavors in this drink and they all come together for the perfect finale. This rum libation combines oaky Pyrat rum liquor, coffee flavors of Patrón XO Café, coconut from Coco Real cream of coconut and fresh pineapple juice. Top that with fresh whipped cream and a cherry and you have dessert in a glass! Salud!
Iron Cactus has patio seating on the River Walk so you can eat, drink and people watch. Or you can sit inside and enjoy their beautiful dining area and the cool of the air condition.
**Full Disclosure: I received lunch in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% mine.
Location: 200 River Walk St #100, San Antonio, TX
Phone: (210) 224-9835
Sun – Thurs 11am – 10pm
Fri – Sat 11am – 11pm
Mon – Fri 3 – 6pm