While in San Fransisco, we visited Nopalito – a newish casual Mexican resto based in the revitalised neighbourhood of the Northern Panhandle area. This used to be a danky area, but no more.
Nopalito is the little sister of the better known Nopa, and is a restaurant that focusses on Mexican food made from local, organic and sustainable ingredients.
So we headed there for lunch. The restaurant set up is crisp and clean, with the tables made from fallen oak trees paired with metal chairs. The kitchen is pretty open and you can see a lot dishes being prepared.
Since I am not that familiar with Mexican food, we ordered a variety of things to share and experience.
We started with an Empanada con Deshebrada de Res – a pastry filled with beef, tomatoes, cabbage, and topped with avocado, cabbage, salsa, and a soft white cheese. I’m not sure what it is, but it appears that Americans like their meat kind of dry and lean – nothing wrong with that, but it does make the meat a tad dry to eat. While the beef had been stewed until it was flaky, on its own it was a little dry for me. Thankfully when mixed in with the cabbage, salsa and cheese it was a tasty dish. The cheese reminded me of cottage cheese, but a little more salty – I really enjoyed this component of the dish.
We then had a Panucho de Pollo al Pibil – a tortilla with shredded marinated chicken, cabbage, pickled onion, soft white cheese and salsa habanera. This dish was one of my favourites – the chicken was marinated in citrus flavours which made it very fresh, the cheese went well with the cabbage, and the salsa lining the tortilla was slightly tart. Mmmmm…
The third dish we tried was a Gordita de Picadillo – a tortilla pocket filled with beef, potato, capsicums, refried beans and a delicious sweet salsa. I’m a big fan of refried beans, and boy did these go well with the beef. The tortilla was crunchy, and the salsa was sweet (reminded me of a tomato relish). A tad messy to eat, but very enjoyable.
My favourite dish, however, was the Taquitos de Papas con Rajas – crispy tortilla rolls filled with potato, and cream cheese, and topped with onion, tomato, super fresh salsa, and served with guacamole. The tortillas were pleasantly crunchy, and the potatoes were a nice vegetarian filling to go with the tart toppings of the dish. I enjoyed this one so much I got one to go (you know, in case I got hungry on our road trip to Sonoma!).
We finished with a little serve of polvorones – or little almond cookies. These little gems are baked on site. I have long been a fan of any type of almond cookie, and this didn’t disappoint.
I really enjoyed our lunch here, particularly as we do not get the opportunity to eat food like this in Brisbane. The setting is trendy and casual, the food freshly prepared, and the service prompt.
If I get the opportunity to return to San Francisco, Nopalito will be on my list of restaurants to dine at.