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Green Cactus: Go west of the border for delicious Mexican

No sign. No street address. A discreet green cactus sketched on the front window means you're there. Zagat has blessed it. The New York Times has reviewed it. It's all white and green - very fresh looking and that's it's modus operandi. Signs proclaim: no freezers, no lard, no MSG, no microwaves.

There are eight high black tables and high black chairs, and a counter runs along the window with seating. But the nerve center is the kitchen and take out/eat in counter. Give your order deciding on flan or churro for dessert. Take care to note your number. They'll call when your takeout/eat in tray is ready. Meanwhile get your iced tea, Coke or soda in a refillable cup. There's a salsa bar for condiments that you may wish to investigate.

Cactus Grill is a bustling spot for office workers at lunch and more so for Sunday night suppers, the times when I went Mexican. It is noisy but it is fun. And it is delicious.

I followed the lead of my informers: "Quesadillas (melted Jack cheese in a flour tortilla with guacamole and sour cream and fresh salsa on the side). Have a chicken and have a shrimp. And share them." So we did. The tortilla is marvelously thin. The shrimp are small whole ones - and plentiful, too. The chicken is char broiled, adding immeasurably to the flavor. The salsa, finely chopped fresh tomato pieces, was so good.

Another recommendation was chicken taquitos with three corn tortillas filled with chicken and served on a plate with guacamole, sour cream and fresh pico de gallo salsa. The chicken is practically ground.

To add a bit of greenery, we ordered cactus salada with Romaine lettuce, char-broiled chicken, crushed corn chips on a bed of pico de gallo salsa tossed with dressing and topped with shaved Romano cheese. Delicious, and a meal in itself.

The flan is a tiny cup, just the right size to satisfy your sweet tooth.

At lunch the next day with another dining companion, we split a Green Cactus burrito with melted Jack cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo salsa and char-broiled steak. Cheers!

Green Cactus keeps calories in mind always. The tortilla wrap is delightfully thin and they manage to bundle it without tucking in a lot of excess at the ends. Burritos come two-fisted, too, and its so good, I'm tempted. There's shrimp, bean and cheese, vegetarian, fajita, and grande with rice black beans, chopped onion, cilantro, hot or mild salsa and char-broiled chicken or steak.

Torta, the "Mexican sandwich" is a winner, too. Slivers of char-broiled steak (or chicken) on a toasted Mexican roll with guacamole, sour cream, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato is luscious.

The sombrero was a crisp six-inch flour tortilla topped with black (or pinto) beans, sour cream and guacamole with salsa. Again, that wonderfully thin crisp tortilla brimming with great toppings. It is pegged "Mexican - pizza." I'd call it "señorita pizza" - small and delicate.

In a soft tortilla (thinny thin) with red snapper lightly breaded, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo salsa, tangy dressing and a squeeze of lime, Green Cactus did it again scoring with their tiny tacos al carbon (steak, chicken, shrimp or fish and ranchero).

Today we tried a churro for dessert. They're made right there. In fact the next batch came out in 10 minutes.

The Bottom Line

A fresh-looking, fresh-tasting takeout/eat-in Mexican grill. Excellent food with calorie-conscious thin tortillas and burritos. Salsa bar, iced tea, flan and churros, too. Do-it-yourself service. Seating at high black tables with high black chairs and at counter running across front window.

Green Cactus

215 Mineola Ave.

Roslyn Heights

516-626-3100

Chef's Choice

Green Cactus Burrito (melted Jack cheese, guacamole, fresh pico de gallo, salsa & char-broiled steak or chicken. Two-fisted add $2.75)...$5.70

Nachos (fresh corn chips, black or pinto beans, guacamole, sour cream, fresh salsa, melted Jack & cheddar cheese. Add chicken or steak, add $2.35)...$5.25

Quesadillas (melted Jack cheese in a flour tortilla with guacamole, sour cream and fresh salsa. (Add chicken or steak for $2.35, add shrimp, $3.50)...$4.65

Green Cactus Shrimp (char-broiled shrimp in a soft corn tortilla with chopped onion, cilantro with hot or mild salsa and a squeeze of lime)...$2.25

Cactus Salad (Romaine lettuce, char-broiled chicken, crushed corn chips, pico de gallo, salsa, salad dressing, tossed to order & topped with shaved Romano cheese)...$6.45

Cactus Combo (strips of char-broiled chicken or steak on a plate with black or pinto beans, rice, lettuce salsa & flour or corn tortilla) -...$7.95

Cuisine: Fresh, fast-food Mexican grill

Setting: Green and white. High black tables & chairs

Service: Do-it-yourself

Hours: 6 days from 11am. Sun 12pm

Parking: Mini-mall (also in rear)

Location: Mini-mall W side abutting LIE. No name. No number. Cactus sketched on window

Dress: Come as you are

Children: Share

Private parties: No

Off-premise catering: Yes

Noise level: High

Credit cards: All major

Handicap access: Yes

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