by thedishandthedirt on June 30, 2010

I love the story of Nopalito — how the owner at Nopa noticed the incredible family meals prepared by two employees in particular, and as a result, hatched the idea of Nopalito to showcase these two chefs and their native Mexican cuisine. Fast forward to today and Nopalito has a neighborhood and out-of-neighborhood following for its pure and honest approach to the way these chefs ate growing up. I am one of those out-of-neighborhood dedicated diners and have eaten here, well, a lot (at least, by San Francisco standards, because there’s an awful lot to choose from here). The vibe is fresh, vibrant, and welcoming. The food, all those things and more.

The Dish:
Out with the mommies again, we started with the totopos con chile (tortilla chips, salsa de arbol, cotija cheese, crema, and lime) and the taquitos de papas (crispy rolled corn tortillas, potatoes, jalapenos, tomatoes, guacamole, queso fresca, crema, salsa cilantro). I get the totopos almost every time I go, as it’s an easy starter that appeals to everyone while still packing a subtle, but noticeable spicy jab. The taquitos were crispy as promised, not suffering from any flabbiness that sometimes afflicts the innnermost layer in the taquito’s tortilla. While perfectly pleasant, I would say the taquitos lacked something for me…and I confess that’s probably some fatty meat that I love so much.

For my entree, I bypassed the amazing carnitas (which I get virtually every time) and instead, tried another pork option (shocking) in the quesadilla roja de chicharron. That’s right, chicharron. There’s just no mistake made when you order something with chicharron in it. The quesadilla had a chile mulato corn tortilla with crispy pork belly, salsa guajillo, jack cheese, queso fresca, onions, and cilantro. The salty, fatty crunch of the chopped chicharron was a perfect foil for the pliable, but chewy, tortilla and creaminess of the melted cheeses. The two-top male table next to us started with the quesadilla and then each had the carnitas as their entree; so basically, pork, then more pork. Not even a side of veggies to be seen. I liked their style. But I’m a girl, so needed something green and had an order of the ensalada de pepinos con rabanos, which was a salad of Japanese and lemon cucumbers, radishes, pickled red onions, lime juice, spices, and hot sauce. The salad provided a necessary bright note to the heaviness of the quesadilla.

To end with, I had a white-peach blueberry paletta, which is basically a homemade fruit popsicle. It was a nice light ending to the (considerably fried) meal.

The Dirt:
I just don’t know why someone wouldn’t try this place. It’s bright, it’s straightforward, it’s well-priced and to boot, if you care, it’s organic and sustainable. There’s really nothing not to like about this place. Oh! And you can park for free in the Falletti Foods lot! Done deal, it’s a must try.

I know I usually have juicy tidbits to add, whether they are from my own life or stolen juicies from my dinner companions’ lives. But this time, I have to say, there’s little to say. Each of us (there were 5 of us, our offspring totaling 11 kids not including my impending addition) were so euphoric just being out and away from the little ones, having escaped bathtime and bedtime, that all we could do was sit and eat…and oh, talk about our kids.

Bauer’s two cents here.

Nopalito on Urbanspoon

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