5530 H Street, Sacramento, CA 95819. (916) 452-TACO (8226).
My first job out of college was as an office manager at a athletic mentoring center for youths called CORE. Pretty funny when you think about it since I'm about as nonathletic as they come (my friends and family can attest to this). Anyhow, the daily work involved with the job was pretty mundane but I always loved talking to the students that came in. There was one high schooler, Aaron, that used to come in that was friendly and had impeccable manners. In addition, he always brought the staff these giant chocolate chip cookies that were absolutely divine. Now when someone brings you delicious cookies; good manners dictates that you just say, "Thank you," eat the cookie and be grateful but one day curiosity got the better of me. Nosy Nelly that I am, I broke down and asked where he was getting these wonderful cookies. Turns out his parents owned a small eatery in East Sac called Nopalitos Southwestern Cafe and he was ganking them from there. Armed with this knowledge I was bound and determined to visit the source of these magical cookies. So over the years, I tried on multiple occasions to stop into Nopalitos but as luck would have it, it was always closed. Turns out the restaurant is only open for breakfast (630-1045 am) and lunch (11 am-230 pm) on weekdays, not exactly conducive for serving the working crowd. But now that my daytime schedule is much more relaxed, I've been able to scoot over there a few times. To date, I haven't been able to get over there for lunch but have had the pleasure of eating breakfast several times there and it's definitely worth rejecting the snooze button and getting up early for.
The restaurant, located by East Sac Bikes, is nothing glamorous but it radiates a warm and cozy feel; which has made it popular with local residents. Don't let the line dissuade you, the counter service moves fast as it's cash or check only (and many people are just there for takeout). You're given a number and your order's delivered to your table when it comes up. During crowded periods, table sharing is encouraged. Now one thing that I love about Nopalitos is that it doesn't suffer from what I call "Target Syndrome." You know, where you're shopping at a Target and there's a million red-shirted employees milling about but there doesn't seem to be anyone available to help you when you need service. Not at Nopalitos. There's one lone busser working the crowded floor and he's on top of it. Coffee's refilled regularly and plates are cleared promptly. Note: If I could make one small change to the service though it would be that the counter staff be as friendly to newbies and infrequent guests as they are to the regulars.
For breakfast, I've had the Little Cactus Special which consists of tortilla chips, eggs, cactus, corn, and cheese scrambled together, and topped with cheese, mild salsa, sour cream and your choice of ranchero sauce or green chili sauce. I went with the green chili sauce and it was quite tasty. I've also had their french toast (which is made from whole wheat-walnut sourdough bread) and their huevos rancheros...both were excellent and the side order of bacon I requested was cooked perfectly. I hope to be able to pop in there for lunch soon and try one of their fat, smothered burritos or maybe their much talked about tamale bowl. Not to mention that those incredible cookies are available at lunchtime!
So if you have a weekday free, throw some clothes on and head down to Nopalitos for a morning bite. Your gullet will thank you- the food is fast, fresh and tasty and there's even several dishes for your vegetarian friends to choose from. In addition, you would be supporting a local small business (gotta love that!).