Nopalito

“HANDCRAFTED.” This was the word that exemplified it all. The food was to be made by hand, sourced locally, from sustainable and organic farms. The ingredients were simple, and slow cooked, “food of the grandmothers”, according to chef Laurence Jossel, “Love filled Mexican food”. We began our search for a palette of repurposed materials, and developed details that would highlight the human hand, and allow for graceful aging. We found wine-soaked oak strips, used in flavoring barrels….pierced tin pendant lights made from #10 tomato cans… acoustic panels from organic coffee bags. The space is a mere 1250 sf. With two-thirds of the space kitchen, the remaining space would need a strong design focus. The image of a candlelit glowing Mexican bar within a bigger space grabbed us, and the idea of creating a glowing stage where Nopalito chefs created delicious meals emerged.

“The indoor space is divided equally between an open kitchen and the dining area, which includes a kitchen counter where I like to sit for a solitary indulgent bite in the afternoon. The clean, modern design merges utility and imagination. Nopalito is a generous place. Each meal begins with a treat of spiced, deep fried chickpeas and ends with a sandy Mexican nut cookie called a polverone. They want you back — and once you’ve eaten there, they’ve got you. The taste memory will pull you right in.” 

– Patricia Unterman, SF Examiner

Project Description

A glowing stage is the backdrop for regional Mexican food

“HANDCRAFTED.” This was the word that exemplified it all. The food was to be made by hand, sourced locally, from sustainable and organic farms. The ingredients were simple, and slow cooked, “food of the grandmothers”, according to chef Laurence Jossel, “Love filled Mexican food”. We began our search for a palette of repurposed materials, and developed details that would highlight the human hand, and allow for graceful aging. We found wine-soaked oak strips, used in flavoring barrels….pierced tin pendant lights made from #10 tomato cans… acoustic panels from organic coffee bags. The space is a mere 1250 sf. With two-thirds of the space kitchen, the remaining space would need a strong design focus. The image of a candlelit glowing Mexican bar within a bigger space grabbed us, and the idea of creating a glowing stage where Nopalito chefs created delicious meals emerged.

“The indoor space is divided equally between an open kitchen and the dining area, which includes a kitchen counter where I like to sit for a solitary indulgent bite in the afternoon. The clean, modern design merges utility and imagination. Nopalito is a generous place. Each meal begins with a treat of spiced, deep fried chickpeas and ends with a sandy Mexican nut cookie called a polverone. They want you back — and once you’ve eaten there, they’ve got you. The taste memory will pull you right in.” 

– Patricia Unterman, SF Examiner

Project Details

CLIENT: Nopalito
CONTRACTOR: ACI Construction
GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Rubber Design
PHOTOGRAPHER: Eurydice Galka
PRESS
SF Gate
The surroundings are simple but, as with the food, there's a keen attention to detail, such as handsome tables that are cut from one fallen oak tree.
Remodelista
Nopalito Mexican Kitchen in the NOPA neighborhood of SF is not only green in its color theme but also in its design. The project architects, Abueg Morris Architects in Berkeley, used a multitude of recycled products, many sourced from California, and commissioned local artisans and artists to create the appealing space.
LOCATION