Saturday, October 07, 2017

El Nopalito CDMX

Los Nopalitos (Las Cuevas, Michoacán)
We'd a long day of travel, flying from New Jersey to Mexico City. We'd had a couple of home made sandwiches on the plane and several beverages. (United Airlines is now serving excellent Illy coffee, at least on international flights.) But by the time we arrived at the Hotel Brasilia in mid-afternoon, we were ravenous.

I had seen El Nopalito on the Google Maps site, and it seemed a likely prospect. The typically terse Google Map reviews were favorable. Even though it was near the Hotel Brasilia, we took a taxi as we very tired and the walking route had at least one pedestrian bridge to traverse.

The entrance to El Nopalito is unprepossessing. It looks like a garage entrance.

Don't pass this by!

But just beyond, all is transformed. There appeared two spacious and attractive dining rooms. The first is partly outdoors and the second, obviously newer, is under a roof. Beyond appears to be an ample garden space. I imagine that it's used for special events.

El Nopalito's attractive dining rooms
"Árbol" comedor
Our table held some tempting noshes. Our genial waiter explained that these were not free, other than the salsas and the chips. But we were starving, so we dug in without restraint. The trio of salsas was outstanding. There was a brisk, fresh salsa verde, a salsa cruda, a fiery salsa roja, and a thick, dark, barbecue type sauce. We dipped the crisp totopos (tortilla chips) to sample each salsa. We tackled a bowl of guacamole. The guacamole was past its peak of perfect freshness, yet we ate it with gusto.

Salsas and guacamole
Taking center place on the table was a pair of crisp, brown quesadillas de papas y carnitas. They were quite good, although pulling out the fastener toothpicks was a challenge, but we soon met it.

We then turned our attention to the very extensive menu. Rather than take up space with images here, I'll post links to the photos.


Main MenuCocina de la Familia, Cocina Tradicional Mexicana, Del Mar 

De la Taquería, de Nuestra Parrilla


Food for a crowd

It was hard to choose what to order, but we finally decided to start with soups.
(We were intrigued by "Taquitos Borrachos de Barbacoa", but the barbacoa had not yet come out of the oven. A Google review says it's available starting at 3:00 p.m.)

I chose Sopa de Médula, a soup rarely seen on our local restaurant menus. If ever.

Sopa de médula
Here's a video recipe, in Spanish, of how to make this Sopa de Médula at home.
It's not for the sqeamish.

Sra. Cuevas had a classic Caldo Tlalpeño. It was good, with lots of enriching garnishes, despite a somewhat thin stock.

Caldo Tlalpeño
Caldo Tlalpeño is more commonly found on restaurant menus. Here's a recipe.

When I see "Mixiotes" offered, my eyes light up with anticipation. It typically is composed of well seasoned pieces of meat, often lamb but other meats too, baked in a parchment pouch. Originally, the parchment was derived from the inner tissue of pencas de maguey. Now it's usually just parchment paper, which is acceptable, but never the use of aluminum foil.

I found this image of a maguey and I just have to share it with you. To me, it speaks of the essence of México.

The menu offered Mixiote de Carnero, which should be veal, but to my delighted surprise, it tasted definitely like lamb. It was a very impressive dish.

Mixiote de Carnero
It was huge, with surprise morsels of meat tucked away in the rinconcitos of parchment. The spicing was complex. I found a large leaf inside, and when asked, our waiter told ust that it was hoja de aguacate: avocado leaf.

La Señora selected Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo. This is a standard menu item, available in most Mexican restaurants. But this version was exceptional. Not only was it beautifully plated, the enchiladas were generously filled with quality white chicken meat, in a tangy tomatillo salsa. The traditional queso fresco y crema garnish was applied tastefully, not drowning the enchiladas in richness.

Enchiladas Verde de Pollo
With our meal, Sra. Cuevas drank an agua de mango, then an agua mineral. I had a pricey Michelada con Clamato ($85!), then a Cerveza Victoria.  All these were summed up in la cuenta. But we considered it money well spent.

RATINGS (Calibrated on a 1 to 10 scale, 1 being dismal and to be avoided. 10 is the supreme heights, but rarely reached. A 5 is mediocre but acceptable in a pinch. Any rating above 6 is worth of attention.)

Food: 8

Service: 9  Our waiter was outstandingly helpful and genial.

Ambience: 8 Very pleasant and attractive dining rooms.

Cost: $$$ 1/2 per person. $=$100 pesos  This is not cheap, but it's worth the price.

Restrooms: Clean and very functional

Summary: an outstanding example of a superior traditional Mexican restaurant. Excellent food, outstanding friendly service.
We would definitely return if we are in the area again.

Contact info: Av. Insurgentes Norte 1037, Gustavo A. Madero, Guadalupe Insurgentes, 07870 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Tel: +52 55 5537 3375


(Implies breakfast service)

(Implies breakfast service)






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