Tag Archives: restaurants

Nopalito

¡Si, Vamos a Nopalito!

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!

Put Your Ethics Where Your Mouth Is

Shop in Bulk and Source Locally

Packaging takes up a huge portion of the landfills on our planet and by buying in bulk, you can cut down on unnecessary waste.
Rainbow Market in the Mission has a great selection of bulk products and even gives you ten cents off your total for every bag you reuse or container you bring in to use. Whole Foods also has a great bulk section that offers a variety of organic (and sometimes even local) products.
As far as your produce goes, shopping at local Farmer’s Markets helps to cut down on carbon emissions because your fruit and vegetables don’t have to be shipped from halfway across the world.
Often times, the farms are between 20 and 100 miles away and offer organic and sustainable produce. They offer seasonal produce, and the vendors at the markets are happy to tell you where the produce comes from, how it was grown and whether or not pesticides were used in the farming process.

One Word: Vegan

I’m not telling you to give up your meat and dairy completely, but at least cut back on the amount of animal products and byproducts that you consume. One healthy, adult cow produces, on average, one hundred pounds of waste a day. This is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emission and by cutting back on meat and dairy, you can help to eliminate some of these effects.
If you must eat meat or dairy, make sure that it is organic, free range, and hormone free. Straus Creamery is an excellent local dairy farm and all of their products are sustainable and good for the environment. Also, make sure to get cage-free, hormone free eggs. The couple more dollars you spend on these items will be worth it in the long run.

Help Out in the Community Garden

Did you know that USF has a community garden right next to the ED building? If you come and help out on a Friday workday between 12P- 4P, you can not only walk away with some fresh greens, but you can also learn how to plant, grow, and harvest your own produce based on what is in season.
You can also use these skills to plant a window box with fresh herbs or take it to the next step and start planting your own fresh veggies!

Interested in Learning to Live Off the Land? Take A USF Summer Course

Green Media will be taught this summer by David Silver as a media production course. This year, it is being taught from July 24th- August 7th at Buck Mountain Experimental Station, owned and operated by Professor Melinda Stone.
If you need a cell phone and computer to get through your day, this course isn’t for you. Nestled in Northern California, the station is removed from the hustle of everyday life and perfect for those wanting to have a hands on experience.
In this intensive class, you will walk away knowing how to live off the land and how to produce your own food. While it is a media studies course, it is hosted by USF’s environmental studies department. There are very limited spots so make sure to sign up!

Eat At Restaurants That Use Sustainable, Local, and Organic Ingredients

I love eating out, but sometimes it can be discouraging to think about where your food comes from. Many restaurants in the city are now priding themselves on offering sustainable, local, and seasonal ingredients. Try out these sustainable restaurants:

Tataki Sushi
(California between Divisadero and Broderick)
Sorry to break it to my raw fish lovers, but a lot of sushi is extremely unsustainable and is harming the environment. Tataki Sushi is a sustainable sushi restaurant that was introduced to me by a colleague. It is not only delicious, but it makes sure that the dish offered is viable for the planet.
Favorites on the menu: extinguisher roll ($13), sashimi taster- 6 pieces of the chef’s selection ($12), tuna poke ($11)

Plant Cafe Organic
(Various Locations)
The Plant Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. I find myself here a couple times a month. Not only is their food fresh, but their name says it all. The Plant Cafe prides themselves on using organic and sustainable ingredients and is a great restaurant for vegans. Their poultry and seafood is free of hormones, antibiotics and is oftentimes sources locally.
Favorites on the menu: quinoa bowl ($10.25), fish tacos($12.5), tuscan chicken panini ($10.50), skin refresher juice with cucumber, apple, strawberry and watermelon ($5.75 for 12oz.)

Tips on How to Survive the Late-Night Munchies

Being in college means two huge things in the food world: functioning on coffee, and eating during super late hours at night. Sadly San Francisco is not New York, where everything is open until two in the morning. What’s a college kid to do in times of late night munchies?

There are plenty of places in the City that will satisfy your late night snack attacks, study sessions and Wi-Fi needs. Most places close up early, but keep your eyes opens and you might just find a new favorite place to chow down at 2AM.
Of course there’s always the twenty-four hour Safeways, but sometimes that’s not enough. Here are a few good places to go when the late night cravings commence:

Blue Danube
(Clement Street between 4th and 5th) Hours: Mon-Thurs, Sun. 7A-10P Fri & Sat 7AM-11PM
This cute café/ coffee shop is the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee or a small bite to eat. There is plenty of comfortable seating and space to study. My only complaint about this place is that you have to pay for Wi-Fi, but still, it’s open later than most cafés.

NOPA
(Divisadero between Fell and Hayes)Hours: Mon-Fri 6P- 1A, Sat & Sun 11A – 1A
This place is a bit on the expensive side, but is completely worth it. The atmosphere is really laid back and the food is amazing. My favorite late night snacks are the spicy chickpeas ($3) or the fish and chips ($4). They also have a full dinner menu if you want to get something more substantial.

The Grove
(Various locations)
Hours: Open until 11:30PM
I’ve mentioned several times before that I love this place. The seating is really relaxed and there are comfy couches everywhere. It’s easy to come here late, grab a seat, and get a snack, dessert or just a plain cup of coffee. There is a required purchase for Wi-Fi access (for every $5 you get 30 minutes).

Mel’s Drive-In
(Various Locations)
Hours: Open until at least 1AM
For all your late night, greasy diner fare, Mel’s is the place to go. They have your standard burgers and milkshakes, as well as “fancier options”, such as the turkey sliders topped with goat cheese and arugula. There are several locations spread out in the City and are all open late.

El Farolito
(Mission between 23rd and 24th)
Hours: Mon-Thurs, Sun 10A-3A Fri & Sat 10A- 4A
Honestly, I love this place. Not only can you find me stumbling into El Farolito on any given Saturday at 3A, but the people who work there are really friendly and make your food fast. The portions are huge and extremely inexpensive. Get a burrito and agua fresca and finish your night right.

Get Some Dim Sum: Mayflower Seafood Offers Chinese Cuisine

Sometimes it can be hard to venture into the Richmond on a brunch type of day. The ominous clouds lingering over that part of the city are threatening enough to extinguish all desire to explore the sprawling neighborhood lying west of USF. Yet, hidden between the infinite avenues and under the foreboding weather are culinary treasures, like the Mayflower Seafood Restaurant.

Mayflower Seafood offers traditional Cantonese cuisine and serves up a dim sum during brunch hours that would almost be a sin to miss.
During a traditional dim sum meal, servers push around heated carts adorned with all sorts of bite-sized Cantonese specialties and patrons may pick and choose as they please. The push-cart service is unique to dim sum and is an essential part of the experience.  Mayflower does not provide this option for their customers, though. Instead, diners mark down specific dishes they would like to eat off the extensive menu.

IMG_8474

Mayflower Seafood Restaurant on 27th and Geary serves authentic dim sum. (Valerie Aragon/Foghorn)

My last trip to Mayflower took place on a Saturday during peak brunch hours. Walking in the door, we were welcomed by giant tanks of fish. Although alarming, the tanks were signs that the fish was, err, fresh. My companions glanced at me anxiously, but with a little encouragement, I convinced them to join me in the dining room adorned with 1980s chandeliers and other decor that seemed to be completely incoherent. The majority of the customers were Asian, which is always a good sign at a dim sum place. Servers bustled around with trays of steaming hot dumplings.

We tried eight dishes, beginning with the Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce ($4.85). The stalks of broccoli steam to a perfect crisp while the florets soak superbly in the oyster sauce. Although saltier than necessary, the oyster sauce was smoky and contained a much richer flavor than one normally finds.
The pan fried shrimp and chive dumplings ($2.85) were beautiful. The shrimp slightly overwhelmed the flavor of the chives, but the juxtaposition of textures, between the crisped dumpling and the soft, steamed shrimp, stimulated the mouth.

The noodles with vegetables ($4.85) should be skipped. Although stuffed with multiple species of mushrooms, bamboo, baby corn and yellow beans, the only flavor came from the dipping sauce delivered on the side. The white noodles tasted overcooked.

Overall, the winner on the menu was the pea sprout and shrimp dumpling ($2.85). As a dim sum fanatic, I can honestly tell you this is the finest dumpling in San Francisco. The steamed shell opened inside to a sensational combination of shrimp, pea sprouts and garlic. The minced shrimp was infused with garlic and paired perfectly with pea sprouts for a delectable twist on traditional dumplings.

For desert, make sure to try the steamed egg yolk bun ($2.10). When bitten, these opaque white dumplings reveal a warm golden custard that oozes into your mouth. Sweet, salty and buttery, they are the perfect way to top off your meal. Custard desserts are prevalent in Cantonese food, but most buns are filled with a thicker, custard familiar to French cooking. Instead, the filling of this bun is a more satisfying runny, burst of joy.

Dim sum at Mayflower will cost you around $15. Dishes are cheap but so was the service. Staff will bring you food, but do not expect to chat with them. The abundance of small dishes encourage experimentation and conversation throughout the meal.  It’s affordable, conducive to a good discussion and the food is unforgettable.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

Scene Editor: Tamar Kuyumjian

Chik’n Soup For the Herbivore’s Soul: Top Five SF Restaurants For Fake Meat

The General Meatless Chicken Lunch Special at Big Lantern fills up any vegetarian and comes with a side salad in addition to rice and soup.  Photo by Harmony Corelitz/Foghorn

The General Meatless Chicken Lunch Special at Big Lantern fills up any vegetarian and comes with a side salad in addition to rice and soup. Photo by Harmony Corelitz/Foghorn

College is a time of awakening, and for many college students that means coming to terms with the environmental effects and health risks of meat consumption.  Whether you’ve been scared out of eating meat after calculating your geographic footprint in your Understanding the Environment lab, or are simply following the example of the punk bands you listened to in high school, we’ve got the best insider tips on where to get your hands on some amazing meatless grub.  If you thought that Outtahere chickenless salad sandwich you just ate for lunch was good, wait until you try out these guilt-free meat imitations.

Jay’s Cheesesteak (3285 21st St AND 553 Divisadero)

There is something inappropriately satisfying about biting into a thick, seitan cheeseless steak when you adhere to a mostly vegan diet. I am yet to figure out how Jay’s manages to give their seitan (wheat gluten) such a full and meaty flavor. On my most recent visit to Jay’s, I ordered the Mushroom Seitan Steak with no cheese and slathered on some tangy barbecue sauce and extra jalapeños. The shredded lettuce lent texture and freshness to the hot mess of seitan and grilled mushrooms, while the pickles and jalapeños livened the sammy’s flavor with a briny zing. Though initially not very hungry, I couldn’t help but shove down the whole thing, savoring each juicy little bite. Dressed with a Wyder’s Pear Cider, the September sun and the chaos of Dolores Park, this sandwich transformed my Friday afternoon into something worth writing about. With two locations in the city, Jay’s is a sure stop to get your fake meat on.

Weird Fish  (2193 Mission St)

If you are reading this and haven’t tried Weird Fish’s Buffalo Girls yet, please set down the paper and hop on the 33 bus.  Weird Fish proves that vegetarianism isn’t always healthy, with their overwhelming menu of grilled, fried, and tossed seitan.  The aforementioned Buffalo Girls (salty strips of seitan soy-battered and served with a side of veganaise or vegan ranch) are their most popular appetizer, but don’t stop in without trying the Hell Taco (seitan, avocado, and mango salsa) or Seitan “Fish” and Chips.  The comfy interior, cute waitresses and impeccable soundtrack at this hip Mission District hotspot make it a great destination for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Ike’s Place (3506 16th St)

When I finally went vegan this summer after years of being a vegetarian, my mother, the herbivore, only had one question: “What are you going to put on your sandwiches?”  The woman had a good point.  What good is a vegetarian sandwich without the cheese?  Thankfully, Castro sandwich shop Ike’s Place answered that question for me.  Frequently coveted for their distinctive take on their vegetarian and meat-filled delights, the sandwiches at Ike’s Place are the best thing between two slices of bread.  Choose from a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, from the Vegan Combo (Vegan Sliced ‘Meats’, Vegan Dirty Sauce, Soy Cheese) for us Vegans, to the Bowser (Vegan Meatballs, Mozzarella Sticks, Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers, Marinara). The best thing about Ike’s is that they bake all bread fresh to order, which might make the hungry man cranky due to the painful wait during their daily lunchtime rush, but is certainly worth sticking around for. Come with some friends and a deck of cards during Happy Hour (Mon-Thurs 4 – 7 p.m.) and add a bag of chips and a soda to your order, free of charge.

Big Lantern (3170 16th St)

Big Lantern is not your traditional cheap Chinese food joint.  Their menu is filled with great options to satisfy both the vegetarian and her meat-chowing friend. After indulging in one of their many meatless dim sum options, I usually go straight for the General Meatless Chicken.  Their suspiciously accurate take on crispy-fried chicken is deep fried, then wok tossed to perfection in a sweet garlic sauce and garnished with red pepper.  Lunch specials are served with an appetizer of hot-and-sour soup and a side of rice, so come in for an afternoon delight and leave stuffed to sedation, with some money still left over in your pocket to grab a tasty bite of dessert.

Lucky Creation (854 Washington)

A quick peek at Lucky Creation’s extensive menu is enough to get the salivary glands going in any vegetarian struck with meat nostalgia.  Lucky Creation offers a barnyard of imitations including vegetarian sliced pork, fake chicken and imitation goose, in addition to their peculiar sizzling spicy “shrimp” balls.  If you want the greasy charm of a Chinatown joint without the risk of accidental meat consumption, I’d recommend bee-lining for Lucky Creation next time you are in the neighborhood.