Times are changing for Belden Place, the bistro-lined alley formerly known as the French Quarter, which has suffered the recent closings of Plouf and Sauce on Belden. The newest arrival, Tin Cactus, will open on Friday, November 8 in the former Sauce space, adding a hard-drinking and loosely Mexican-inspired cantina to the pedestrian-only street. Owners Franz Meis and chef Fred Turner worked at nearby Belden Taverna, the Italian steakhouse, for a decade before opening Toy Soldier in 2017, shifting their focus to business lunches and a late-night crowd. For Tin Cactus, they’re joined by Johnny “Love” Metheny, the local bartender behind the late Johnny’s Love’s chain.
The trio doesn’t appear to have any direct connection to Mexican cuisine. (Chef Turner is originally from Vermont.) But the Tin Cactus menu covers all of the standards: chips with salsa and guacamole, tostadas, quesadillas, tacos, and larger plates with rice and beans. For lunch, there will be tortas. Other highlights include Dungeness crab tostadas, hamachi crudo, and short rib ropa vieja. The kitchen is making corn tortillas by hand, but many of the dishes are best described as Mexican-inspired fusion: pineapple shrimp tacos, duck confit quesadillas, and Caesar salad. Much of the focus is on alcohol, with six Mexican lagers on draft, 20 mezcals, and 36 tequilas. Cocktails include flavored margaritas and not-specifically-Mexican piña coladas, vodka drinks, and other classics.
Tin Cactus is located next door to Toy Soldier, tucked away on Belden Place, just a couple of blocks from Union Square, in a neighborhood where tech finance professionals and wandering tourists tend to collide. Designer Michael Brennan put in warm colors, longhorn skulls, milagro statues, a Nacho Libre painting, and, of course, those namesake tin cactuses. True to the rest of the alley, the restaurant offers a combination of indoor and outdoor seating, with 60 seats inside and 30 seats outside.
Tin Cactus will be open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and for dinner Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to close, with early and late happy hour deals.