Being from the UK, Mexican food wasn’t really something I was too familiar with growing up. We had a few chains in big cities, but nothing to rival the abundance of Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants that line our streets and food courts. Since coming to Korea I’ve got REALLY into Mexican food. You’re maybe wondering how living in Korea could have kickstarted this new obsession. Korea is really influenced by American culture, probably partly due to the huge American military presence. And Koreans seem to be particularly fond of “American style” food trends. Something that is beginning to be more prominent on the Korean food scene is Mexican food and I’ve been enjoying sampling a lot of it over the last couple of years.
Me and the Wee Gypsy Boyfriend were proper chuffed when we stumbled upon Cacto, a brand new Mexican restaurant that has opened just 5 minutes from his apartment. We had to pop in for a visit to see if this could become a potential new local for us!
The decor in the restaurant is bright and airy, with a small outdoor patio- something that I was glad to see. I really miss beer gardens and sitting outside on sunny days, so I’ll definitely be visiting again in the summer when I can make the most of the patio seating.
What I really liked about Cacto was that it had a restaurant vibe, but more of a fast food style set up. The menu was written above the cashdesk, much like you would see in McDonalds or KFC, and you order, pay then are given a buzzer to wait for your food. The food is made to order in an open plan kitchen so you can be assured that it is all fresh when it gets to your table. We waited about 10/15 minutes for our foods- perfect for if you’re just grabbing a munch on the go.
I went for the Smoky Beef Burrito Bowl which was 7,500 won (£4.60/$6.50) and Veeran (WGB) had the Roast Pork Burrito which was 7,000 won (£4.30/$6.10.) We also got a portion of the Calorie Bam Fries (great name!) which were 6,000 won (£3.70/$5.30.) Portion sizes were reasonable, especially for the price- I’d say this is one of the more affordably priced Mexican places in the area.
The Smoky Beef Burrito Bowl was really tasty- it was layered with rice, pieces of beef, lettuce, salsa, guacamole and sour cream. I’m not a huge meat eater but the beef was really succulent and the smoky flavour complemented the Mexican spices well. I was glad that the salsa had a nice kick to it- since moving to Korea my taste buds have become quite accustomed to spicy food so I like to give them their fix whenever I can. Don’t worry if you’re not into spice- there is a generous amount of sour cream to cool your mouth down.
While I was eating my burrito bowl (which was really a glorified salad!) I was pretty jealous of Veeran’s actual burrito! I’ve not been eating much wheat recently so decided to steer clear of the wrap- but it looked so good. As you can probably gather from the name, the burrito had all the same fillings as the burrito bowl, but Veeran opted for roast pork instead of smoky beef. He said that the meat was really tender and well seasoned. I must have gotten a bad bite, because I got quite a fatty piece of pork, but I guess not every piece can be perfect!
The calorie bam fries were definitely calorific! They were loaded with bacon and melted cheese sauce. My biggest gripe about our whole trip was probably that they weren’t too generous with the cheese sauce- I love a good condiment and if I’m having chips (AKA fries, not crisps!), I love to smother them in mayo, tomato sauce, curry sauce, gravy or whatever’s going! Next time I go I will probably go for the the Cacto fries which has beef, kimchi, bacon and cheese on top of chips. Sounds amazing and plenty of toppings to keep me satisfied. I had a similar thing in Vatos Mexican Restaurant in Seoul and loved it. Korean and Mexican foods compliment each other really well, so I usually sample fusion dishes like these whenever I have the chance to.
If you’re still looking for a reason to visit, I should point out that they currently have a 1+1 promotion on draught beers! So you can get 2 OB draughts for 3000 won! (£1.85/$2.60) Sadly, they weren’t quite pint sized, but still a great offer nonetheless. They also have a few craft beers on the menu and some champagne, which I was really surprised to see. The craft beers that they have are Indiga I.P.A , Blue Moon and Big Wave. At 8,000 won (£4.90/$7) a pop, they were a bit out of my budget!
Overall, our trip was definitely a success! As much as I usually like to stick to Korean food when I’m dining out, it’s always great to wet my waygookin tastebuds with something international once in a while, and this ticked all the boxes for me. Cool place, good prices, quick service and tasty food. I’ll definitely be back!
If you’re looking to visit Cacto, it’s in Chang-Dong, Masan. You’ll find it across the road from the Daiso store near the fish market. The closest bus stop is The Fish Market (어시장.) The 100 and 800 bus stop here, among a lot of other more local/ less direct buses. Here’s a link to the location in Daum Maps. The address in Korean is 창원시 마산합포구 창동거리길55 문화빌딩. If you’re new to the area and need help with directions, feel free to get in touch!
If you do decide to try Cacto, leave a comment and let me know what you think of it. Maybe I’ll bump into you there one day while I’m demolishing a burrito!