El Nopal

September 30th, 2010 § 19 comments

This is very exciting.

Homemade salsa, freshly mashed guacamole, agua fresca, handmade tortillas…It’s all enough to bring a tear to my eye.

“Who on earth wants to eat Mexican food in Paris?” I hear you asking.

If the line that formed at El Nopal the moment it opened is any indication, lots of people.

Claudia was born in Paris to Colombian parents. She met Alejandro in the United States. Now they have a little taqueria on rue Eugene Varlin, two steps from the canal St. Martin and, more importantly, three steps from my front door.

I’ve tried the tacos, a set of three on house-made corn tortillas with a choice of meat. I had two chicken and one beef with potatoes, both with a bed of black beans.

I’ve also had the quesadilla with chorizo and its cousin the campechana, filled with grilled beef, nopalitos, avocado, and cheese. I’d like a burst of freshness in all of them, something to brighten up the flavors. Alejandro’s delicious salsa, made with fresh chilies – whatever varieties he finds – certainly helps. (Sensitive-palated Parisians, consider yourselves warned.)

Business has been good so far, but Claudia and Alejandro are still waiting for their land line to be installed so that they can print cards and menus, and take orders. It’s a familiar refrain, the newcomer’s phone company lament, and in talking about it I sense that Alejandro misses the States a little. But for transplants like me, El Nopal is a little bit of home. I’m rooting for them.

Update: They have a phone!
El Nopal, 3 rue Eugène Varlin, Paris 75010, 07 86 39 63 46.

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§ 19 Responses to El Nopal"

  • Camille says:

    This is very good news! Thanks for sharing!

  • Randy says:

    Wow, this is good news, the closes I found to Mexican was Anahuacalli (5eme), but the Chef/owner said he’s had to tone it down quite a bit for the French. There’s a large ex-pat community from California here in Paris, and Mexican food to Californians is like what fried chicken is to the southeners. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks.

  • Leesa says:

    YAHOOO!!! Or should I say, Olé? I am REALLY happy to hear of this.. (Just saw that Sam posted it and came back here to read it first hand)..
    I’l echo what Randy says… I’m a So. Cal transplant( just north of the border -Mexican)… Sooo true! I really miss Mexican food but not the TexMex stuff- I don’t consider that to be the real stuff!!
    I’ll have to round up a bunch of us to check it out..
    Take care, Leesa

  • Sam says:

    I was wondering if you have any idea of what there hours are like? I wads quite disappointed when I tried to get tacos on Saturday only to find that they were closed. Hope for better luck next time.

  • Barbra says:

    Hi Sam – On Saturdays they open mid to late afternoon. Every other day they do lunch and dinner, with a break in between. Good luck!

  • taco lover says:

    Yeah, I don’t get it. A new restaurant trying to build up a clientele, only to alienate many of it’s would be biggest fans by only being open during intermittent days/times.

    Me thinks they have been in France too long – they forgot how to think like a customer would and then make decisions.

    Anyway, thanks so much for posting this! I just found your blog and cannot wait to read more.

  • Barbra says:

    Hi,Taco Lover, thanks for reading. They are working really hard to get open earlier on Saturdays, but for now Alejandro shops for his own ingredients and does most of the cooking himself, so they simply can’t be open all of the time.

  • Taco fiend says:

    Was really excited to try this place– looks like something I’ve been waiting 8 years for here in Paris. Went by today (saturday) at 6 pm and found it closed and if that’s not mid to late afternoon in Paris I don’t what is. The least they could do is post their hours on the door so we know when to come back.

  • Mary says:

    Just to let you know that I got the opportunity to get to El Nopal last saturday and they were definetly opened. It was just after 6 pm. I had beef tacos, homemade cooking with fresh onions and cilantro; so delicious that I’m planning on going back soon! And I took their opening hours to make sure I knew when to go.

    Mon-Fri: 11h30-3h00pm; 6h00-10h00pm (Fri.until 11h00pm)
    Sat: 6h00-11h00pm
    Sun: 11h30-9h00 non stop

    Hope to see more interesting places in your blog!

  • Barbra says:

    Mary – Thanks for the lowdown! See you there, maybe.

  • Daniel says:

    Who wants to eat Mexican Food in Paris? People who actually live in Paris!

    Same thing in Berlin. Whenever I gushed to visitors about the amazing Mission-style Burritos, they didn’t get it. When Ta’Cabron opened up, Berlin finally had an authentic Mexican food place, and I love it. So for us who aren’t just visiting, places like these can be a godsend.

    (Although I have to admit that I’ve already put it on my list of places to visit next time I’m in Paris.)

  • emiglia says:

    ohh… my god. i have been waiting for this since i moved here.

  • Mads says:

    Bottle of wine by the canal plus Nopal food. Awesome.

  • Lien says:

    Thanks Barbra for sharing this since i love Mexican food and knowing that i could have some taco or burritos in Paris when the crave comes is a joy … not that i don’t love French food :-)

  • […] spicy) and green (with real tomatillas!) salsa and yummy tacos, burritos and the like. Here is a review I found that is recent and features yummy pictures! Don’t walk. […]

  • Just discovered El Nopal this weekend. I am soooo happy to have done so. Yummy burritos – even bought one for this Wednesday when I sit the kids while my wife is out. I wrote a scathing post about fake texmex restaurants on my blog recently (http://mfinocchiaro.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/texmex-for-dummies-and-fake-mexican-restaurants/), and it was timely to have discovered El Nopal!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  • […] the variety and options of Mexican street food (burritos, tacos, tortas) in Paris are on the upswing (the tacos at Candelaria are truly delicious, no matter what country you would find them), […]

  • Ted says:

    Thanks for this review. I’ve been in Paris for a year and haven’t had Mexican food yet. Time to wander over to Canal St. Martin to have a go!


  • […] Although, it must be said that even in Paris there is a growing appreciation for quality tacos and burritos, although they are few and far […]

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