As a former Chicago resident, I miss Mexican(s). Both the food, and the fun of working with them in the kitchen (where they reign at every restaurant in that city). At El Nopal, a relatively new tacqueria near the Canal, I get to rediscover the joys of both.
Alejandro, the Monterrey native who runs this place, might not agree that I’m doing work. He may not actually welcome my “contribution” – an endless stream of schemes that end in free tacos for a month (“I’ll update your Facebook.” “I’ll find you an apartment” and so on…). Unfortunately for him, there’s nowhere to stand inside El Nopal except at the counter looking into the kitchen. That means there’s no refuge for Alejandro while I plow my way through the menu, exclaiming “more hot sauce!” and “you should deliver.”
This nagging is rooted in admiration. It’s because I love the cactus-filled campechana and Alejandro’s handmade corn tortillas that I want so badly for them to succeed. Every “you should” is tied to a wish that they stick around and continue to feed me. He and Claudia, the hot Colombian wife, have plenty of ideas of their own. For example, this weekend marks the first installment of Sunday brunch, served all day long and featuring (Mexican) chorizo and eggs. They’re also hunting for a second tortilla press so that they can begin a catering sideline. I’m guessing that press will get a workout when summer arrives and locals discover the joy of taco picnics along the Canal.
In the meantime, go to El Nopal and order some tortilla-wrapped delicious. Throw back a few Tecate and help keep these guys around. And if you happen to know of an apartment that’s available in the 10th, Alejandro and Claudia are trying to get closer to their tortillas. Aren’t we all…El Nopal 3 rue Eugene Varlin, 75010 07 86 39 63 36 Open Mon-Thu 11:30am-3pm & 6pm-10pm; Fri 11:30am-3pm & 6pm-11pm; Sat 5-11pm; Sun 11:30am-9pm