One thing I enjoy in life is discovering little treasures that I never knew existed; it could be a new type of food, a new city, a little corner bakery; or in this case, a restaurant just a few minutes away from home.
O Cacti opened its doors in the Kaslik area five years ago, bringing to Lebanon a whole new concept of authentic Mexican cuisine. Who of us doesn’t like Mexican food? With a variety of delicious and lively venues to choose from like Habana, Jo Penas, El Molino, Pacifico, and Carlito’s, a Mexican night out has become a favorite among Lebanese. Although all these fantastic places have a lot in common, I must admit that O Cacti truly creates its own authentic identity, where you are served unique dishes that you surely have not tried at any of the restaurants mentioned above.
It all started with Marc Abed, whose grandfather Pepe Abed is renowned for his landmark restaurants in the Byblos area. Food is Marc’s passion, and opening his own restaurant has always been a dream. Training with Michelin star chefs and learning about molecular gastronomy has helped him understand the art of creating delicious dishes. Since Marc’s family is rooted in Mexico, he wanted to bring the traditional Mexican cuisine he loves so much to Lebanon. Not only is the food authentic, but also the bowls in which they served. One specific bowl that caught my eye is the “Molcajete”, made from basalt/lava stone.
The décor of the place has a very handmade feel to it with genuine elements of design, collected by the owner from Mexico and other countries. Furnished with a sultry red interior that seats 80 people, the venue is very cozy, charming, and down-to-earth. So far, it hasn’t been a hub for large crowds and definitely isn’t one of the happening places around Lebanon; but then again what undiscovered gem is? I refer to it as a gem simply because of the delicious food that truly surprised and pleased my taste buds and because of the passion behind its implementation.
No matter how many Mexican dinners you’ve had, put your judgments aside because you’re in for a treat and a surprise. For starters, you can order the taco tray. Its components are served in separate bowls assembled together on tray. You can choose from the pineapple chicken coriander (al pastor), the black beans (frijoles), chipotle pepper, cheese (queso), onions (cebolla), parsley (cylandro), chorizo sausages, and meat with bacon among others. The chorizo sausages and meat with bacon are absolutely delicious and I suggest you try those first.
Another dish that is typically Mexican is served in the “Molcajete” – this is something you simply must order. Not only is it light on your stomach, but it’s a combination of ingredients that are simply mouthwatering when put together. It includes chicken, chorizo, avocado, cheese, onion, and pepper, and it is like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. This dish was certainly the star of the evening and will be the reason for my return visit.
No Mexican dinner is complete without the drinks; so margaritas aside, I suggest you order some shots of Don Julio tequila followed by a round of sangritas.
People who search for the trendiest, most happening places to go will not enjoy this place, because as I mentioned earlier, it is still an undiscovered gem. But, this is definitely a place to go to if you enjoy tasting new delicious food and discovering places off your regular route that are bound to surprise you. Once you’re there, you will inevitably meet the owner who will make you feel right at home while revealing his love for all things Mexican with the related stories and trivia he will tell you.
For a cozy, comfortable, and casual night out with some gourmet loving friends, dress casually and take a drive to the Kaslik area where you’ll enjoy a deliciously fun evening with some delectable food and several rounds of tequila at the bar!
The price per person including drinks is around 30 USD.
For reservation: +961 3 10 30 10
If you have been to O Cacti, please leave a comment on the page, letting us know how your experience was and how you think the venue can improve.