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susan smitten

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September 23rd, 2013

It's A Shame About Cactus Cantina [Sep. 23rd, 2013|04:06 pm]
susan smitten
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When we moved to Dubai, one of our first favorite spots was Cactus Cantina in the Rydges Plaza Hotel. Fourteen flavors of margaritas, lots of specials (including cheap buckets of beer or voucher systems where you buy five drink vouchers cheap, but in advance; a legendary Ladies' Night where everything was free, including endless chips and salsa; two-for-one steaks on Mondays; two-for-one Mexican nights; supposedly free drinks if it was raining, and the list went on), and they would subtract your taxi fare from your bill.


Also, the ladies' room had seven or eight pictures like this displayed.

It used to be a cheap hangout, but as it got more expensive and the deals started to evaporate, it was still a chill place to go. The dress code was more relaxed than any other Dubai spot, and I liked watching the salsa dancing on Wednesdays. Once I was celebrating a special occasion with Don, and they brought us a complimentary cake. Another time, we asked if the chef could disclose where the restaurant sourced its black beans, and the chef came out to talk to us, and gave us a sack of dried black beans, just to be nice. I got an email a few days ago that a new location had opened in Wafi Pyramids, next to some fancier restaurants. They're expanding, I thought. Good!


Years ago, maybe ca. 2005, my little brother added Keller, TX, to this map. It's still legible, and I only just realized it didn't turn up in any of my pictures from last night. I'll try to go back and get a picture.

Last night I went to the original location with two friends who had never been there, and another who hadn't been there since the 90's (when a beer cost nine dirhams). We booked a table, but when we arrived, the place was a tomb. One friend said he felt uncomfortable because he thought the spray painted "LANDLORD HAS EVICTED US" graffiti above our booth was slanderous toward Mexicans, and that's when I realized they weren't expanding, they were moving. "So you're all moving to Wafi?" we asked the staff. "Some," was the short reply.



All the furniture had price tags on it. The food was inedible, as if it was the last of the expired ingredients in the back of the freezer. We all left our orders practically untouched, and focused on our margaritas. Then a man wearing a PBE started wandering through the restaurant, fumigating.

Yes, that's what I said. They were fumigating the restaurant while we were eating our dinner and drinking our drinks.


We carried our drinks into the hallway, and a staff member followed us out to tell us we couldn't have our drinks out there. "But the air inside is full of toxic pesticides," we protested. And realizing our drinks were probably full of pesticides, as well, we left them on a bench and all went home.

It was nice knowing you, Cactus Cantina.
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