Cactus Pub - Zamocnicka 1, 04001 Kosice, Slovakia
While in Slovakia, I made a couple of visits to Cactus Pub, a hangout where my friend Ivanka is a regular. Cactus always promises a good, relaxing time and I find it slightly amusing that even Eastern Europe celebrates Mexican culture and the fun that goes along with it--beer, tequila and delicious food.
Located right off of Main Street (Hlavna Ulica) in the Kosice city center, Cactus is easy to get to. The main venue lies in a building cellar (sounds uninviting but is quite the opposite) but there's also a nice outdoor garden available on sunny days.
Decked with Mexican embellishments such as sombreros, tequila and colorful wall art, Cactus is cheery without being too gimmicky. The middle sitting room is modern-rustic with simple wooden tables and chairs, sleek lamps and exposed brick wall. It feels homey and you quickly forget that you're in a cellar.
On weekends, they pump up the volume with catchy, pop hits that elevate the atmosphere--and their customers' mood.
While drinks are their specialty, Cactus also offers simple nosh food such as burgers, tortilla chips and salads. I was curious and maybe a little skeptical at first, but my doubts quickly melted away as I sank my teeth into a delicious version of the Slovak burger.
Cactus Hamburger - True that the above picture of Cactus' burger looks a little disheveled, but don't be fooled by its appearance, as this burger was phenomenal from first to last bite. The bun played a major role in its success, as it was slightly toasted and warm, with a hint of sweetness, topped with crunchy sesame seeds.
The meat, while a lot thinner than American burgers (I'd say half as thick) had spectacular flavor and couldn't be more juicy, despite that it was on the well-done side. Unlike in the States, Slovaks don't ask how you'd like your burger cooked because there isn't such thing as a "medium" or a "rare" burger. Americans might get turned off by this but it actually doesn't matter as long as the meat is of good quality, and it was.
Another lovely aspect was the dressing on top. Again, unlike an American burger, there was no ketchup but instead a creamy Russian-esque dressing--just fantastic and such a welcome difference!
Service and Cost:
The servers at Cactus are as friendly as can be, and especially because my friends are regulars. Our burgers appeared in about 15 minutes, carefully presented with a knife and fork (just in case). I thought that was a cute touch.
In terms of cost, you can't get more affordable than 2.20 Euro for a burger (that's about $2.86 in dollars, depending on the exchange rate). The beer is cheap too and a small glass (which is actually quite normal sized) is under 1 Euro (or about $1). Velmi dobre!