(Last UPDATED 4/6/2022) Description and review of Nopalitos Southwestern Cafe, located on the corner of H and 56th Streets in East Sacramento. NEW: Change in ownership. See “Update” below.
Nopalitos Southwestern Cafe is a long-time East Sac favorite. The cafe was opened in 1992 by husband and wife team Dave and Rose Hanke. They have been serving up tasty Mexican/Southwestern food at a reasonable price ever since.
Nopalitos (the elongated pad of the nopal cactus) is not only the name of the cafe but you will also find it on the menu. On the breakfast menu you will find both a nopalitos scrambled egg plate and a nopalitos omelet. Then, of course, there is a customer favorite – the Little Cactus Special.
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What You Need to Know
The small cafe, which has limited seating inside and out, is known for its friendly and efficient customer service.
On the other side of the equation are several drawbacks. First, the cafe is not open for dinner nor on the weekend. It is a common lament among the cliental that the limited hours and days of operation impact their ability to frequent Nopalitos Southwestern Cafe more often.
Lastly, Nopalitos does not accept credit or debit cards. Accepted forms of payment are either cash or check. I personally do not often carry cash, instead relying on plastic for just about everything. This means that I must plan ahead before heading to Nopalitos as opposed to a spur of the moment decision to stop as I pass it by while running errands.
Ordering Pick Up
I called and ordered my choice from the lunch menu and then hopped in the car to go pick up my meal. A table is set up outside for those who called in an order. You are asked to wait there to be served. It did not take long before I was noticed. My order was ready and brought out to me.
If you have not ordered in advance you can go inside the cafe and order at the counter (as was the drill pre-COVID-19).
It was a beautiful day and several people were sitting outside having just finished their breakfast. I had picked up my lunch order shortly after the 11:00 a.m. start of lunch service in order to miss the lunch crowd. A long line is not unusual.
My menu choice that day was the Carnitas (seasoned slow roasted pork, shredded and then grilled) Rice and Bean Plate (served with rice, whole pinto beans, mild salsa, and corn or flour tortillas ($9.95).
I had gone back and forth between that dish and the Smothered Burrito (large flour tortilla filled with choice of charbroiled chicken, beef, chile verde, veggies, carnitas or chorizo and mild salsa, beans, rice, and cheese, then covered with ranchero sauce or green chile sauce ($8.95). Tip: Order ½ and ½ of the sauces so you can enjoy both.
Every element of my Carnitas Rice & Bean Plate was perfectly seasoned and tasty. “Home cooking” is a term that comes to mind. The dish was served with two large flour tortillas. I especially like that the flour tortillas served at Nopalitos are very thin.
Last of all, I should mention that Nopalitos is also well known for their breakfast menu. Next time.
(4/6/2022) The Sacramento Bee reports that Rose and Dave Hanke are retiring at the end of April after thirty years of owning and operating Nopalitos! They will be missed.
Most importantly, taking over as the owner will be Roberto Timoteo, a 27-year employee and long-time sous chef at Nopalitos. Only time will tell what, if any, changes Roberto will make to the menu and cafe.
Comments on Nopalitos Southwestern Cafe?
Comments on either the Nopalitos breakfast or lunch menu? Do you have a favorite dish?
Nopalitos Southwestern Cafe Snapshot:
- 5530 H Street, Sacramento, CA 95819
- (916) 452-8226 (taco)
- Open: Monday – Friday
- Breakfast: 6:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
- Lunch 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Closed: Saturday & Sunday
- Vegetarian/Vegan friendly
- Beer Only
- Small Outdoor Patio Area
- Cash/Check Only, No Credit/Debit Cards
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