At the second location of Nopalito, owners Laurence and Allyson Jossel and Jeff Hanak hope not only to replicate favorite dishes but also to build a more complex repertoire. At the original Nopalito, they are restrained by the size of the kitchen; on Ninth Avenue, there's room downstairs so they can butcher whole lambs, pigs and goats, which will find their way upstairs to an expanded menu.
The new Nopalito is every bit as good as its predecessor. You can get familiar items such as the crisp, seductively greasy gordita ($4.50) stuffed with sweet sauced beef brisket, chorizo and cabbage; and the panucho ($4.50) piled high with chicken stained red from achiote, with black beans, cabbage, pickled red onions and the kick of salsa habanera.
Most combinations have their own salsa that brings out the best in the other ingredients. It could be salsa de miltomate with the gordita; salsa de morita and tomatillo with the fish taco ($4.75); or pico de gallo with the carne asada ($16.50).
The posole ($12), a favorite at the original restaurant, is just as good here. But I might have found a soup that's even better - caldo tlalpeno ($10), a rich chicken broth filled with chunks of carrots, garbanzo, florets of cauliflower, green and yellow wax beans and chunks of queso fresco.
There are also different dishes, including trout ($16.50) on a bed of pumpkin seed puree that also coats the Christmas lima beans underneath. The fish is supple, the beans fleshy and the sauce spicy from serrano chiles. A dynamic triad.-SFGate