By Brooke Warden
From the first moment I tasted interior-Mexican cuisine, I knew it would be well-received in Charleston.
My fascination with Oaxacan cuisine began when traveling throughout Mexico. I fell in love with the unique flavors like dried chiles and heirloom corn that serve as the foundation for many traditional dishes. The nightlife I discovered on that same trip inspired the concept for Pink Cactus.
Tiny, sunlit cafes transformed into Mexican speakeasies at night, filled with a high energy that sharply contrasts the sleepy daytime vibes. There is really nothing like it, and I wanted to recreate that experience back in Charleston.
From the first moment I tasted interior-Mexican cuisine, I knew it would be well-received in Charleston. Years of upscale restaurant experience taught me that Charlestonians have an elevated palate and are always seeking new flavors and ingredients in their cuisine. While our city has a ton of amazing options for Mexican dining from the coastal Baja region to Tex-Mex from the U.S. border, I believed the interior region of Mexico to be untouched by Charleston’s restaurant scene. I felt like our city was anemic for this traditional fare with such a rich cultural background and wanted to make Pink Cactus a culinary and cultural excursion downtown.
Those same people have stood by me ever since and have never hesitated to lend a hand when I needed it.
Through all the challenges of bringing the restaurant to life, I have realized the importance of community and how strong the F&B circle is here in Charleston. The night before Pink Cactus opened, I was at the restaurant all night putting on finishing touches. When my friends from a nearby restaurant found out I was still there, they came to help and brought their families. Standing with them on opening day made all the long nights worth it and was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Those same people have stood by me ever since and have never hesitated to lend a hand when I needed it. Being a restaurant owner has knocked me down several times, but these people are always there to pick me back up and remind me that there is nowhere else that I would rather be.
The chances I took — buying a building, starting a restaurant from scratch, becoming my own boss — were all fueled by dreams. I would not have been able to persevere if I were not passionate about sharing the art of Oaxacan cuisine with Charleston. Standing here eight months later, I realize that it would have been impossible to have this experience go like I planned when I first started, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am so thankful that I took this chance and followed my dreams and look forward to continuing to bring the flavors of Oaxaca to Charleston diners.
Pink Cactus is downtown at 100-A Spring St. Visit website for operating hours and menu.