Lunch at El Nopal: Cheap, fast, and good

Vegetarians can cobble together a good meal at almost any Mexican restaurant. The traditional ingredients in Mexican American cuisine: corn, tomatoes, avocado, onions, beans, and rice, come together a lot of different ways to provide balanced protein and other essential nutrients.

Our go to Mexican diner is El Nopal, a regional chain which is expanding quickly due a formidable formula: delicious food at cheap prices.

And you have to love a restaurant named after a plant. “Nopal” is Spanish for “cactus.”

On a recent Friday, we started out with the usual salsa, guacamole, and corn chips. The chips are straight out of the oven and served warm.

The guacamole is also right on point, colorful and perfectly seasoned.

Salsa comes to your table in two bottles. The darker red one is quite spicy, the other mild. You also get individual salsa bowls, which is helpful for two diners with radically different ideas of what’s appropriately seasoned. I usually mix the two salsas to get the perfect level of heat.

Our entree was vegetable burritos topped with queso, a typically white melted cheese, similar in texture to Velveeta.

These burritos were stuffed with mushrooms and a variety of other vegetables. They were so rich we had to ask for a go box.

We left El Nopal nicely sedated. And the bill, which came out to under $25, didn’t kill our buzz.

These veggie burritos were delicious!
The El Nopal on Baxter has an inviting interior


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