Smile Politely

Cactus Grill: Lots of food, low prices

There is something special cooking on Neil Street. If you’re driving, looking over at the University campus, you’re missing out on what’s right in front of you. Live in the present. You’re one turn away from happiness, and by happiness, I mean Cactus Grill.

As I have written about before, I love Cactus Grill. I have great memories of the place, and I have eaten countless burritos and quesadillas in the trunk of a Ford Explorer, at various parks in the area, on many dates, and more. What makes Cactus Grill so special? Keep reading, and you’ll find out.

In a styrofoam box, there is a quesadilla sliced in triangles with takeout sauce in small covered plastic cups. Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

Ah, the honey grilled chicken quesadilla, one of favorite things to eat at Cactus Grill. This delicious morsel will cost you about $5.20, and if you ask me, that’s a great deal. The quesadilla is filled with meat and cheese, and I like to put their chipotle sauce inside as well. It’s gooey, melty, and absolutely delightful.

You also get two different sauce choices to dip your quesadilla in, mild and spicy salsas, guacamole, sour cream, or chipotle sauce. One quesadilla is plenty big, and if you go on a Thursday, you can get the chicken quesadilla special which also comes with a chicken taco. That is a deal you cannot miss.

On wrinkled tin foil, there is a large uneaten burrito. Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

The steak burrito from Cactus Grill is another classic that I have eaten many times in my life. I now prefer the honey grilled chicken, but you cannot go wrong with getting steak either. At $7.80, this is a pretty good deal for the amount of food you get. The burritos are constructed Chipotle-style, so you go down the line and pick the ingredients you would like in your burrito.

The bean choices are black or pinto, and the rice choices are Spanish or lime cilantro. The rest of the toppings are fairly straightforward: tomatoes, onions, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, spicy or mild salsa, and chipotle sauce. If you want to hear a little secret, ask to get your burrito double pressed if it’s not too busy in the restaurant. The time on the press after the burrito is wrapped melts the cheese and keeps everything from falling apart a little better, making the burrito that much better.

In a plastic black bowl, there is a burrito bowl. Half of the bowl is chopped steak bites, and the other is rice covered in a light orange sauce. Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

The steak burrito bowl ($7.80) is great for all of you who are counting carbs or don’t love tortillas. The burrito bowls are also the same price as the burritos, so there is no discrepancy in price. You don’t have to order steak by any means, you could also choose tofu, no meat, chipotle chicken, honey grilled chicken, or fish. I have had all of these proteins, and they are all great options. The rest of the bowl is exactly like the burrito: you get your choice of toppings. and they put it all together. I personally prefer a burrito, but every once in awhile a Cactus burrito bowl hits the spot.

On wrinkled, unwrapped tin foil, there are two chicken tacos in soft corn tortillas. Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

Tacos are not something I usually think about when I am going to Cactus Grill. I’ll be honest, you can find better tacos in the Champaign-Urbana area. With that being said however, the tacos are still good, especially when you get a taco with your quesadilla as part of the Thursday special.

I tried the chipotle chicken taco. Each Taco is $2.75 which is an alright deal if you don’t eat a lot of tacos in one sitting. On each taco, you have the choice of all of the toppings you can put on a burrito. I like to load mine up with everything, and I usually go for either chipotle chicken or honey grilled chicken as my meat. You also get the choice of flour or corn tortillas. I almost always go for corn, but if flour is your thing, I won’t judge you for it.

Cactus Grill
1405 S Neil St
M-F 11am-9pm

Top image by Anthony Erlinger.

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