Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nopalito - San Francisco, CA

Ceviche - it was so tasty I forgot to take a pic-pre chowtime.

San Francisco , home of the burrito, produces some wonderful mexican cuisine. I haven't eaten at a ton of Mexican establishments in San Francisco. However, the places I have visited have served up super fresh, cheap, and most importantly tasty fish tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. Mexican cuisine has recently moved up on my list of favorite cuisines - and now Nopalito stands at the very top of that category.

Vegetable tamale

Nopalito, opened up a little over a year ago and is a self-proclaimed "sustainable, organic, Mexican kitchen." Nopalito's name is a nod to its sister restaurant, Nopa, and its Mexican cuisine (referring to the slices of cactus leaf used in traditional cooking). Cacti adorn the windows of the restaurant creating an inviting dessert feel. The restaurant celebrates "traditional cookery of Mexico, utilizing local, organic, and sustainable ingredients." You can order a couple small plates or a large plate as your meal. The prices are very affordable, so all you have to worry about is your appetite, not your wallet.

Nopal or Cactus

Some people think of Mexican cuisine as heavy, greasy food. But traditional Mexican food is anything but that, offering up fresh produce enhanced with minimal fat and lots of herbs and spices. Malia and I ordered up a couple items to share - ceviche de pescado y calamari, tamal de huitlacoche, and mole poblano con pollo. AJ ordered up the empanada de suadero and the taco de pescado al pastor.

Chicken with Mole Sauce

The tamal was earthy and substantial with a nice filling of black beans, greens, onions and jalapenos. The sweet corn played nicely with the earthy filling and the sour crema sauce. AJ enjoyed his super fresh taco al pescado. The fish was marinated in a bright mixture of cilantro, adobo, chile, and orange. Served up on hearty yellow corn tortillas this made for a nice start to the meal.

The ceviche was the highlight of the meal - quite possibly the best I have ever eaten. The seafood was incredibly fresh, and the calamari were so tender. Often times calamari are chewy or rubbery, but these were prepared exquisitely, bringing out the sweetness of the flesh. The lime juice, cilantro, and tomatillo complimented the sweet fish with a nice acidity. The smooth, creamy avocado slices were the perfect addition. I loved how these were served with warm, salty, corn chips. This dish exemplified the simple, clean flavors of Mexican cuisine.

The mole poblano con pollo was excellent as well. A chicken leg is served on the bone, with a rich mole poblano sauce. The mole was warm and spicy - made with toasted chiles, cinnamon, chocolate, nuts, sesame seeds, and onion. The mole sauce combined the sweet and savory elements well.

The food at Nopa is exceptional, and I would highly recommend checking the place out. While they don't take reservations, try to get to the restaurant early, as they get especially busy on Friday and Saturday nights.


Malia said...

Yum! Such delicious food and drinks! You know what I realized though...huitlacoche is corn fungus...not sure if it was traditional or not, but if so, that's what we were eating in the tamal. Good thing we didn't tell AJ. ;)

Ariel said...

Hahaha. I believe corn fungus is a traditional ingredient! Yes, let's hope AJ doesn't see this.