The two chefs at this unusual Mexican restaurant formerly worked in the kitchen at nearby Nopa; they made such delicious staff/family meals there that Nopa's owners developed this restaurant around their cuisine. The authentic, skillfully prepared dishes range from seasonal salads and a spicy beef empanada to succulent pork carnitas and a fulfilling posole. All the tortillas are made from organic house-ground masa (dough), also used in the tortilla chips layering
the chilaquiles at weekend brunch. Mexico's flavorful peppers, among them the guajillo, chile de arbol, and pasilla, find their way into many of the offerings. Casual Nopalito is popular with families yet equally pleasing to adult groups lured by the well-selected tequilas. Expect a substantial wait in the evening. You must leave your name on a list, but you can call ahead to be put on it. (There's a take-out window if you're feeling truly impatient.) To avoid waiting, try weekday lunch, after 2, when the place clears out. A second location in the inner Sunset is less crowded.