Nopalito’s

San Francisco

Today was my tattoo day. Tomorrow was Ashley’s turn. Our two dear friends from Seattle, Megan and Evan were in town on their cross-country honeymoon, and met us up for hanging and eating. 

We decided to take them to Nopalito (the local, organic, amazing Mexican place that Ashley and I flipped over last time or so that we were in SF) for dinner. Nopalito is always nice and busy – people chowing down on smaller/medium-sharing-sized plates of Mexican specialties. 

Unfortunately – when you get tattooed for most of the day – you usually don’t feel right at the end of the night… sometimes the endorphins work to your favor and stick around… sometimes those jerks leave you and let you get spacey. I wanted to tough it out and hang and rage and all that… but I think I faded and crashed pretty hard towards the end of the meal… but we’ll save that for later.

What I love about Nopalito is that everything can be shared – and that everything feels that it should be. The seating is all semi-close to other seating (without being too close for most of the areas), the cooking-area is openly visible, the plates are smaller and priced-well to the point that you can order lots and try lots (I always want to try as many things as possible when eating anywhere), and the restaurant is usually filled with a bit of music and the conversations of happy patrons. 

We went up to the bar and waited for our tables – everyone ordered their cocktails – I had the Bloody Maria (Pueblo viejo blanco, tomato, orange, spices) – rocking Nopalito-version of the Bloody Mary. We all caught up and drank and waited for our table to open up. 

Once seated (between couples of strangers), the four of us began picking our selections of the night: Totopos Con Chile (tortilla chips, salsa de arbor, cotija cheese, crema and lime), Gordita De Picadillo (fried tortilla pocket, grass-fed beef, potato, carrot, redbird pinquito beans, queso fresco and salsa de venas), Empanada Con Deshebrada De Res (fried masa pastry, grass-fed beef, tomato, jalapeno, cabbage, avocado, queso fresco and salsa molcajte), Ceviche Verde De Pescado Y Calamare (marinated rock cod, calamari, lime, tomatillo, jalapeno, cilantro, avocado and tortilla chips, Mole Poblano Con Pollo (sauce of toasted chiles, chocolate, cinnamon, nuts, sesame seeds, onion, seared chicken breast and rice), and finally – Carne Asada Con Nopales Y Chorizo (grilled skirt steak, cactus, pasilla chile, onion, chorizo, queso fresco and pico de gallo).

I’ve mentioned at length the last time I covered Nopalito’s how much I am in love with their Totopos Con Chile: soft, traditional cheese; a good amount of crisp off the salty chips – the lime adds this slight moisture that takes it all to another level as well texturally. Nopa’s Ceviche was fresh, and exciting. You could really single out each of the flavors in there. The Cod had a softer texture, the calamari and obvious naturally-chewier thing going on… avocado and lime and cilantro couldn’t go better with the duo.

The empanada was quite different from the Cuban-style I am so accustomed to (being from Florida) – it was more like a giant hardshell taco – which is not a problem. It’s amazing that each dish at the restaurant almost seems to have it’s own salsa that goes with that dish – this super crunchy empanada was pretty rocking. The gordita had a similar super-crunchy house to the meat, versus the softer brethren I have consumed in the past – nonetheless – great as well. 

The steak and chicken mains were… too much food at this point. If you look up only a few paragraphs and see that grocery-list of ingredients we were intending on consuming – you can sympathize with our fullness. Since all the blood was in my stomach digesting by this point, and no longer focusing on sending their red and white goodness over to my open-wound arm… I started gettin’ a little rough (maybe it was the Bloody Maria and the Negras…) I unfortunately can’t describe the mains with proper justice due to my state.

I think I started getting in that paranoid-drunk-type-state with Megan even… I was hallucinatory almost – I think I was hearing her saying things to me that she wasn’t. Kids – don’t drink after a day of tattooing. Sorry for being a whacko Megan…. Ha… 

Then again – if you can’t be a whacko to your friends… who can ya be a whacko to?

 

20 thoughts on “Nopalito’s

  1. Every time you mention Mexican food we feel so excited and honored! The fact that you appreciate our culture is so awesome! Can’t wait to share some delicious Mexican platillos (dishes) with our amigos from Trivium! :-)

  2. I love mexican food! These dishes looks different from I’ve ever eaten. Looks so good! How do you find so many nice restaurant ?

  3. Dude, another great article. And this one had some of your best photo work. Also, thanks for improving in your writing. You are getting more and more succinct and it makes you very easy to read. Typos here and there, but that’s just lack of proofing. All in all very good. Also, I’m not being the Bobby Flay of grammar (you don’t remember the “linkz” tweet do you).

  4. Hi, i like your photos and your ‘restaurant traveling’ (i read your posts at night so it makes me ultra-hungry). What is you all time favourite drink/starter/main dish? cheers

  5. I can see you ate empanadas, totopos,bocoles, nopales, mole, but….. you need to taste the Mexican barbecue, There are 4 types of barbecue, chicken, pork, beef, but the best is the lamb, I recommend it!!! Great Article!!
    greetings from Veracruz, Mexico

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