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Cactus Bistro: First Look


This is not a review of Cactus Bistro, just a first look at a long-anticipated restaurant (Cactus Bistro was originally slated to open Winter 2011). For a review, I prefer to wait at least a month after a restaurant's opening to let a restaurant settle into itself—new staff, new suppliers, new everything tends to result in an inaccurate reflection of what the restaurant experience will ultimately be. (Though a friend also believes in a "six-month suck cycle" in which after the luster fades, the staff begins to slack off. But that's a whole other debate.)

John Memering, previously the executive chef of Kalapawai Cafe, has opened Cactus Bistro right across the street. The first official day of service was yesterday, starting with lunch only, with dinner service to start in May.

Billed as "a celebration of the cuisines of the new Americas with Aloha," the menu channels Latin American flavors. A sample of menu items: Argentine fry bread, Big Island boar picadillo empanadas, feijoada, lomo saltado (a Peruvian stir-fry), and a variety of tacos with fillings from turkey chorizo to pork al pastor. For dinner, the menu transitions away from tacos and tortas (sandwiches) to bigger plates such as duck "carnitas," slow-roasted pork shoulder, and clams with lemon-chile fideo (noodles).

Lunch prices range from $4 to $15, dinner entrees from $15 to $24.

767 Kailua Rd., 261-1000, cactusbistro.com

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