Yes, it is a hole in the wall. No, there is not enough space to eat “sur place,” unless you are alone and are OK sitting on a stool in a corner.
These are the only negative things about El Nopal. Everything else is great. The menu is inexpensive and authentic, piles of fresh avocados and tomatoes are visible behind the glass counter, and the cook cranks out homemade tortillas in front of your eyes.
El Nopal is a friendly spot. Customers chat in Spanish, French or English with the Mexican cook from Monterrey. Even though he is from a land of sun and warmth, the cold gray Parisian skies don’t faze him. He is more than happy to be sharing his favorite national dishes with the people of France.
As a Californian, Mexican food is dear to my heart. Just seeing the words “taco”, “burrito” and “guacamole” written on the menu board were enough to bring tears to my eyes. The first time, I ordered the mixed tacos: chicken and cheese, beef and refried beans, and pork with onions and coriander. So fresh! And as a bonus, all of their items can be made vegetarian.
El Nopal has red salsa and salsa verde of course, with varying degrees of spiciness. The chef confessed that many French people would approach the counter out of curiosity, but the French are notoriously afraid of spicy food. He would give them medium spicy salsa, and that was too much. “Don’t mess with Mexico!” He concluded, pleased with this fact. I promised I wouldn’t.
The food is served with fresh lime and transports you directly to a little café by the beach in your mind. Ordering a Modelo, Sol, or Dos Equis with your meal will help get you there even faster.
For a taste of Mexico and a ray of sunshine, head to El Nopal for your next meal, and tell the chef I say hola.
3 rue Eugène Varlin
Metro : Château Landon, Louis Blanc
© 2012 Pasa’s Paris