Nopalito: Fresh Mexican Comfort

I really like the restaurant Nopa in San Francisco and have been wanting to try Nopalito, their sister restaurant serving Mexican fare. Nopalito is special, it is “a Mexican kitchen, celebrating the traditional cookery of Mexico and utilizing the philosophy of purchasing local, organic and sustainable ingredients.”

I had lunch at Nopalito recently with a friend. I started with ice tea which came in a jug and with a little bottle of agave nectar. It was really nice. My friend had the ginger lemonade. All their beverages are made in house. Our waitress also brought out some spicy roasted garbanzo beans. They were a delicious snack while we reviewed the menu.

With just two of us, we decided to share a few items so we could try more things. We ordered the taquitos de camote. These crispy rolled tacos were especially great as they were plated with a very generous amount of fresh accoutrements – guacamole, queso fresco, and salsa.

The ensalada de betabeles y naranja came out next which is a delicious salad of beets, oranges, pickled onion, queso fresco, chili, and lime. This was a unique take on beet salad and I think the flavors are a great match.

We shared the taco de pescado al pastor. We thought this might be a hard dish to share, but we were able to cut this fish taco in half. It was not a hard taco shell or deep fried fish. It was a healthier dish, but still very good.

The last thing that came out was actually the first thing that caught my eye, the caldo tialpeno. This Mexican chicken soup came out in a big bowl. It had carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, avocado, garbanzos, chunks of queso fresco and a chipotle chili. Our waitress told us the more we stirred the chili, the more spicier it would get. This soup was pure comfort.

My only complaint is that Nopalito only serves one dessert- house made popsicles. Since we ended our meal with soup, popsicles weren’t going to suit our palette. Flan would’ve been a perfect pairing.

Nopalito reminds me a lot of Tamarindo in Oakland. For those that can’t get enough of Nopalito, they plan to open a second Nopalito on 9th Avenue in the Inner Sunset. Although it was shooting to open the end of this year, it appears it’s been delayed until March of 2012. I hear the restaurant will be much larger as well.