Goodbye, Cactus Ranch

In 2003, Madison’s Food Fight restaurant group opened an Asian-fusion spot called Firefly. The house martini, made with ginger-infused vodka, was pretty darn spectacular. J and I also enjoyed their Sunday brunch, but the restaurant never really seemed to catch on. (The few reviews still posted on Yelp aren’t very flattering.) In 2007 Food Fight closed Firefly and transformed it into the west-side incarnation of Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace, serving up Austin-style tacos. After a couple years, rumors suggested some sort of falling out between the folks running the east-side original and the west-side spinoff, and eventually the west-side version was reborn as Tex Tubbs Cadillac Palace. That didn’t last long though; a server at the time told us they discovered too late that another business out of town—maybe this Chicago theater?—was already using that name and was none to pleased about the newcomer, so it was rechristened Tex Tubb’s Cactus Ranch, and eventually just plain Cactus Ranch. If you’re curious about how the makeover went, check out a review here. The menu moved away from tacos to focus on burgers (local, pasture-raised, organic beef) and entrees, but like the name went through several incarnations. We never had very great experiences there, despite trying them on repeated occasions. Like Firefly before it, the place never really seemed to take off, and a couple weeks ago Cactus Ranch finally closed its doors. Not sure it’s a great loss for the vibrant Madison restaurant scene, but it’s certainly nothing to be very happy about either, especially since the Wisconsin State Journal reports that an Einstein’s Bagels outpost will be taking over the space.

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