Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday's are the best!--EL NOPAL!!

Jason's combo

Chips, salsa, pico de gallo and margaritas!

We spend Sundays at El Nopal- Mexican cuisine and family restaurant! On Sundays we wake up and I am greeted with one question from Jason. Do you have your margarita face on? That is when I nod yes, and we start the delicate dance of both getting ready to leave the house at the same time. I can not remember when this question started, but it works. We are officially on the move. I suppose if I watched or even liked Nascar ( no offense to those who do) this would be our starter flag. Jason and I pile into the truck, stop and grab the Courier- Journal newspaper and head out to our favorite El Nopal.
We start of with chips, salsa, Pico De Gallo, and two frozen margaritas. I feel compelled to discuss the margaritas! I have been a long time bartender. I make my own margarita mix. If you are going to liquefy the masses, El Nopal is doing this right. My personal complaint about pre- mixed product is that it should be labeled syrup. Mix is usually sticky sweet! I will post my own recipe at the end. El Nopal margaritas are very well balanced. A glorious combination of sweet, sour, salty with an ever so slightly sting of the good stuff. Just so you know I am surprisingly a proponent of using cheap, CHEAP, cheap tequila. When you are making a frozen concoction it has the to teeth to sand up to the aforementioned inherent sweetness.
On to the main event, my combo #20. Jason and I do not see eye to eye on this. I think I have chosen the best! I have a toasta-guac, Chile rellano and taco. I have the chicken version. The taste and textures are sublime. Jason has #23. I will admit this too is wonderful. He has an enchilada, burrito and Chile rellano. We read, talk, eat, drink and watch football. Not to mention El Nopal just opened a beautifully constructed patio. I can not wait to loiter on a sunny day next summer.
It is often strange when you form your own rituals. What commonly makes you happy, can ease all the stress that preceded that week! We find a kind spot in our hearts for El Nopal because of the food, but that is really just a great start.
I feel a successful restaurant can not be faked or pushed. By that I mean. The staff at El Nopal feel like they are having a good time. They are attentive, friendly and do not seem stressed. I am not saying they are not under stress. This is a quick moving restaurant that turns tables over and over. Some restaurants that you go to enthusiasm is on the skids. I have felt like waiters feel like they are in a war with the kitchen staff. I have been there in the restaurant business on both ends. If you let it, as a staff member, it can be ugly! Today our waiter had an "off" day. My order was wrong. He did not blame anyone. He smiled and quickly corrected the order. I have great respect for his attitude. If I had a restaurant, I would recruit staff with his approach. I applaud him! It is often this combination of hard to describe, but ever present traits that make something a success.
Bravo El Nopal! I just want to state, that no one at El Nopal knows I am writing this. They have never heard of my blog. I did not write this for free margaritas, but I could be persuaded in the future. I am just kidding. I think!
Margarita mix-
1 cup sugar
2 cups of water
Boil this together until the sugar dissolves.
6 limes- juice and zest!
Add to a pitcher and let sit over night.. Taste this, limes can be stingy with their juice.
Stain this mix. Add ice, 2 cups of mix, 1/2 cup of orange juice, and tequila! I do not usually use triple sec, because I find orange juice to be better!

No comments: