Tired of the Caf burritos? Grab a bite of authentic Mexican food at Nopalito.
This week, I had the pleasure of venturing out into the Inner Sunset to visit my favorite restaurant in the city – Nopalito. Even if you have never heard of it, it may sound familiar. Nopalito is owned by the same people who own Nopa, a five star restaurant and one of San Francisco’s most popular, and expensive restaurants. Nopalito was born when two of the chefs at Nopa began preparing traditional Mexican dishes for the staff after hours. When the owners of the restaurant tried them, they decided to devote an entire restaurant to the food.
When you walk up 9th Street, it is extremely easy to pass by Nopalito. It is a tiny hole-in-the-wall and is surrounded by a few other popular restaurants. On weekends, you could wait up to two hours for a table at any two of the locations. They do not take reservations so I suggest going on a weekday! The inside of the restaurant is pretty small so it fills up quickly. I wisely went on a Tuesday, so luckily I was seated immediately.
They have a fairly small menu, but there are definitely some stand out dishes. The three dishes that I cannot pass up are the Totopos con Chile, the Quesadilla Roja con Chicharron, and the Ceviche Verde de Pescado y Calamari. The Totopos con Chile are homemade spicy tortilla chips smothered in fresh grated cotija cheese, served with lime and sour cream. The chips are made perfectly and are just the right amount of spicy which makes for the perfect appetizer. Another great appetizer is the Ceviche. Every night, they offer a different variation of the appetizer, but the Ceviche Verde, which is a permanent part of the menu, is delicious. Ceviche is a dish made with fresh, cold, marinated fish and it is served with tortilla chips as well. The Nopalito ceviche is made with different fish depending on the day and is mixed with jalepeno and avocado which creates an amazing flavor.
After you have enjoyed one of the tasty starter dishes, I recommend you choose the Quesadilla Roja con Chicharron as your main dish. This quesadilla is my favorite meal that I have ever eaten in my entire life. It is made with pork, crispy pork belly, chile, jack cheese, queso fresco, onion, and cilantro, all wrapped up in a chile-corn tortilla and fried to perfection. The crispy pork belly mixed with the gooey melted cheese is the most incredible combination. I recommend ordering a side of sour cream to go along with the quesadilla.
If you are 21 and over, Nopalito also offers some creative cocktails to go along with your meal. The menu offers seasonal sangria, which you can order by the glass or by the bottle. They also offer an array of interesting cocktails featuring their exceptional tequila collection, but their most popular drink is their classic margarita.
Unlike its big brother restaurant Nopa, Nopalito is very well priced and you definitely get what you pay for. If you love traditional, Mexican style food you will love this restaurant. Both locations are fairly close to campus, so if you are getting sick of the campus food, or you just want to get out for a nice Mexican style dinner, check out Nopalito!