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  • Cactus is a Mexican restaurant most notable for its weeknight “value” deals, which aren’t even particularly great value. When I visited, for example, it was “Taco Thursday” – any taco for 10rmb. Tacos are tiny. Most Mexican places in the city wouldn’t charge you more than 30rmb for two, even when they’re not on offer and they’re filled with foie gras. Less than tempting.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t a single vegetarian taco. Not a solitary spicy mushroom option. Pretty much the only veggie option on the whole menu is a taco salad, which was just a crisped tortilla bowl filled with iceberg lettuce, peppers, onions and tomatoes. The meat and fish options were okay as drink-accompanying canapés, but nothing to shout about.

    Unsurprisingly, they also have drinks offers. On a Wednesday, it’s “Teachers’ Night”, which means free drinks for teachers for two hours. I don’t know about you all, laowai laoshi fam, but my Thursday timetable is terrible. I’d rather not risk the bad-tequila double-hangover I got from drinking there last time. Happy Hour also gets you margaritas for around 30rmb. They’re okay.

    One of the only positive things about the experience was that they agreed to order in a cake for our friend’s birthday. It’s pretty unusual for a restaurant not to offer a birthday incentive on the house, though; we paid them 180rmb for the privilege. We ate as a big group and everyone ordered a lot of tacos, but – for my sad taco salad and three margaritas – I paid 135rmb.

    Cactus is too far north of the laowai fun zone to really bring in big numbers. They’re trying hard with the nightly deals, but the food isn’t good enough to travel for. It’s okay for a couple of margaritas and snacks if you’re in the area.

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SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.