NOPA's little sister (and neighbor in the eponymous 'hood) offers a menu focused on authentic Mexican fare that's more upscale cocina than Mission taqueria..
It's easy to go into a meal at Nopalito with lots of expectations--that it will be as good as big sister NOPA a few blocks away, that it will be as authentically Mexican as that trip south you took last year, that it will be as filling as dinner at any of the Mission's many taquerias. But this relatively tiny, bright, open eatery in Falletti's Plaza is best when you're in the mood to be surprised. There are a few similarities between NOPA and little 'Lito (the communal table near the front and the quality and local sourcing of the ingredients) but the dishes are fresh, and while flavored with the spice and citrus of Mexican cuisine, boast a very Californian flair. Small plates like house-made masa tamales, fish tacos and pork belly quesadillas are meant to be ordered en masse to share--larger plates of carnitas, chicken mole and birria de chivo (goat stew) are served with freshly pressed tortillas and can stand alone as a meal. And while portions are smaller than expected for Mexican fare, that's only because the Mission's colossal, coma-inducing burritos have set the bar unhealthily low.