SF Foodbuzz Food Bloggers Fest – nopalito (dinner on Thursday)
One of my favorite cousins made some time to hang out with me while I was in San Francisco for the Foodbuzz Food Bloggers Fest. I know how busy he is – especially because at the time, his wife was eight and a half months pregnant with their first child (!!!) – congratulations again, I can’t wait to meet him!!! – so I really appreciated that they both came out to eat and catch up with me. They chose nopalito, which, to my understanding, is kind of new-ish, and is forward-thinking-Mexican, sourcing the best and local/organic ingredients. Sounds interesting, and the space was really nice.
My very first horchata! I tried to get one when I went to Red Hook, but some vendors had descriptions up and one said coconut… which made me wary. I’m allergic and I don’t mess with that allergy. At nopalito, though, my cousin & his wife both said there was no coconut in it (it’s rice milk flavored with some spices etc.), and then checked with the waiter just to make sure I didn’t have a reaction. I quite liked the rice milk with nutmeg/cinnamon in it – it was very interesting. I’d definitely try this again at another place (my cousin’s wife told me this was not her favorite version). I also tried a sip of her grapefruit-piloncillo which was light, refreshing, and not too sweet.
We started off with tostada de tinga (fried tortilla, pinquito beans, shredded chicken, chipotle, epazote and crema), which my notes say: chicken a little dry, not bad for spice; and panucho de pollo al pibil (black bean stuffed tortilla, citrus-anchiote chicken, cabbage, pickled red onion and salsa habanero), which my notes say was very good. Please don’t ask me which was which… because I can’t tell from the pictures. Sorry!
My cousin opted for the birria de chivo (goat stewed in dried chiles, chocolate, roasted tomato, spices, pinquito beans and salsa de arbol). He said it was fantastic!
My cousin’s wife ordered the carnitas (long braised pork, orange, bay leaf, cinnamon and beer; cabbage salad, pickled jalapenos, salsa de tomatillo). She made up little tacos for each of us and I found this tasty, with the carnitas very tender.
With my limited knowledge of this style of Mexican food, I opted for the pozole rojo (stew of pork shoulder, hominy, chile mulato, radishes, cabbage and onion). This was a lot thinner than I think for stew, but I liked the ‘build your own flavor’ aspect of the dish –
with a separate plate of components to add to the plate in my own desired combination – tortilla chips, onions, lime, organic Mexican oregano, and a mixture of three chili powders (which I went easy with of course).
The pozole itself was very tasty with a great depth – I added lime, chips, oregano. The oregano was very fragrant; the chips and onions added a great texture, especially the chips. I really enjoyed the pozole and am looking forward to trying it at more restaurants.
With the check, the waiter brought us these little cookies, but I was pretty full so I didn’t try one.
In true piggy fashion, though, I was not too full to have dessert! Ice cream popsicles! Bottom to top – cafe con leche, Mexican chocolate, and a fruit flavor whose name escapes me right now. I LOVED my cafe con leche, and the Mexican chocolate was amazing as well. Unfortunately I can’t remember what the third was, but I do remember liking it – though not as much as my cafe
Yvo says: I respect their goal and mission – “sustainable & organic Mexican kitchen” – and enjoyed what I got to try from there. I would definitely go back to try more, considering the prices are super reasonable and the place is really cute.