Velvet Cactus, Lakeview
Velvet Cactus (link) is a Mexican themed restaurant that recently opened in the Lakeview area. A few friends of mine told me they weren’t impressed with this place. I’m not sure where their disappointment came from, because I was very pleased.
A handful of items jump out on the menu, but nothing too unique for a New Orleans Mexican joint. Salsa was pretty average, but the chips were fresh, crisp and salty. The pinto bean dip was delicious. I found myself continually eating it with the chips. Creamy with great layers of flavor, the dip had various cheeses included. One person compared it to crack, presumably in a positive light (if crack cocaine had positives).
I ordered the pork enchiladas. The pork was moist and had great flavor that could stand on its own. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a sauce inside, but the cheeses on top worked well. The sides included some of the best Spanish rice I’ve ever had, along with a side of beans. The black beans ordered were watered down and not that appealing.
For dessert, I ordered the churros. Nice and crisp, these came with a not too sweet dipping sauce and powdered sugar. This proved to be a great ending to a very filling meal.
The cost falls in line with your usual Mexican restaurants in town. Soft drinks were a bit pricey ($2.50), but had free refills. The portions were sizable, though the bean dip for an appetizer only really works for two people.
The tables range from 2-4 people indoors, though they’re not very big. However, there’s plenty of room in between tables, so no worries about hitting someone’s back.
The time that I went was cold, so very large sliding windows were rolled down. However, there seemed to be larger tables outside. If you have a large party, I’d suggesting coming when it’s warm, unless you enjoy blankets in the style of Mexican panchos and large outdoor heaters.
Parking can be intimidating with the small lot, but there is plenty available in the rear, on street and next door. The neighborhood is great – Harrison Ave is safe and doesn’t suffer from too much traffic. Service was a bit slow- the house was full, but no wait time. However, the server was attentive and accurate. There’s a large projector, presumably for large sporting events. A handful of frozen Margarita machines sit behind the bar for the fans of frosty beverages. Seemed kid friendly- a couple next to me had a baby in a high chair.
With the limitations of table size, I would recommend a party of 1-4 people for cold days looking to stay warm. Kids were enjoying the pancho blankets, and teenagers were huddled around the bonfire with their cell phones, so those more youthful might enjoy it outside in the cold. If it’s warm, increase that maximum recommend party size to around 8- fun atmosphere, but can’t handle really large groups. Dinner for two no drinks ran around $45 with dessert.
3.75 / 5
Average rating: 3.5 / 5 star
In the future, pictures will be taken of actual meals. Forgot to do so.