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Cactus Ranch

Update 11/20/11: Cactus Ranch is closed.

(Tex Tubb's) Cactus Ranch

In a word: Taco of the Westies.

The specs: #0677  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Best Bloody Mary, 77 Square, Ruppert Food Blog, Yelp, Isthmus; listing at Eat Drink Madisonofficial web site, Facebook, Twitter, Cactus Ranch on Urbanspoon

Latest Cactus Ranch news and reviews

JM ate the chicken fried steak with fries and a limeade.
Miranda ate the tilapia tacos with a house margarita.
Nichole ate the "single barrel" combo with a pork enchilada verde, a taco with beef brisket, and a prickly pear margarita.
Phil ate the fried avocado burrito.
We split some chips & queso.
The bill was about $12/person, plus tip.
Miranda gave Cactus Ranch an A-; Phil gave Cactus Ranch a B+; JM and Nichole gave a Cactus Ranch a B (see our grading rubric).

We got busted before dinner. We're pretty sure it was the social media manager for Food Fight who came outside and asked why Nichole was lying down in a parking spot taking a photo of JM with his hands in the air. He asked, "Is this going on Facebook?" and we mumbled something about having read about the pains Cadillac/Tex Tubb's/Cactus Ranch went through to arrive at its current name, but yeah, this here blog post is why.

Cactus Ranch (or whatever it's called) has better chips than its Tex Tubb's sibling. The queso is still just as good as Velveeta nuked with some salsa.

Chips, queso and salsa

The margaritas are sweet; the prickly pear version comes in a sugar-rimmed mug and the house version is gentle. This can't be said of all the BBQ sauces. With ketchup and mustard, four variants test the tastebuds. A lot of places do this with sauces: offer you a grab bag of variables such that you need to get an order of fries to accurately gauge what you'd like on your sandwich.

Margarita and lemonadeSauces

The Mexican Chili sauce is equal parts pepper and sweet. BBQ Pit is smoky, Mayan Coffee entertained the coffee fans but repelled everyone else, and the Texas Twang got assimilated.

BurritoSingle barrelChicken fried steak sandwich

The tacos and burritos, which were heavily sampled, met with mostly positive comments. A pork enchilada verde was moist and well-cheesed, while the beef brisket taco was the tender, juicy kind of finger food you can't set down once you've picked it up. JM's sandwich was a little dry (the better to sauce, you say?), but the meat was well-prepared and the fries were non-memorable but non-offensive.

Cactus Ranch does seem different from Tex Tubb's in useful ways but may speak to the perceived difference of locales more than the actual food on offer.  TT is funky and odd to fit in with the near-east side vibe, whereas CR is looking to appear more near-west side professional, if still a little Madison. All of this speaks more to perception than reality, which is fine, but good food is what's gonna make us come back more than trappings.

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So, how was the chicken fried steak? I've been looking for a decent chicken fried steak in Madison.

I've had it at Cottage Cafe and it was OK. I doubt that Madison has a top tier CFS, but that one met my (admittedly low) standards.

cf: Chicken Fried Texas on Gus's Diner

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