20 cheap eats for under $20 in San Francisco
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15. Nopalito( Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )
Three of our four food experts recommended Nopalito — and with good reason. It is a standout.
An offshoot of Nopa, one of San Francisco's trendiest restaurants, Nopalito was designed to be an upscale neighborhood Mexican takeout kitchen. It didn't work out that way, a nice turn of events for diners who want a margarita while they're waiting for their dinner.
You can still get takeout food, but more people dine in than out, choosing from an outside covered patio or table and bar seating inside. We dined in, happily working our way through totopos con chile, a chips dish with cotija cheese, lime and salsa ($5) and carnitas, braised pork with a cabbage salad ($15).
Like many San Francisco restaurants, Nopalito prides itself on using "local, organic and sustainable ingredients." The home-style preparations include grinding the masa for tortillas and tamales from organic corn. The result? Food that's rustic and authentic. You feel as though you're visiting Mexico, even though you're only at a strip-mall café.