One of the best discoveries I’ve ever made here is El Nopal – real Mexican food in Paris. In 2012 a fellow Texan told me about the restaurant run by people from Monterrey, Mexico and ever since it’s been a go-to restaurant.
When I started going in 2012, there was only El Nopal Canal Saint Martin. At the time, I lived in the 16th arrondissement which was on the total opposite side of Paris. I think I had to change metro lines at least twice to get there, but that never deterred me from having my Sunday night Mexican food.
Fast-forward to today, and a meal at El Nopal is still one of my favorite things to do on a Sunday in Paris. Now they’ve expanded and have a second, larger, location in Pigalle. I’m super lucky that I can take a direct métro ride to either location.
Choosing a location is a toss-up for me, but there are differences. Pigalle has Choriqueso (queso with chorizo on top) and indoor seating. But if the weather is nice, it’s hard to beat Canal Saint Martin and sitting along the canal.
There’s only one way to start a meal at El Nopal and that’s with Choriqueso, which is only available at the the Pigalle location. It’s definitely more of a queso fundido than a typical liquidy-yellow Tex-Mex queso, but it’s still melted cheese. I would share it with one other person if I had to, but I really prefer to have my own order. It’s served with a large, hot, homemade flour tortilla.
I also love the Quesadilla and Campechana. At Pigalle they only have Campechanas. At Canal Saint Martin they have both. Both come with cheese, avocado, and nopalitos, which are cactuses. The difference is in the meat: the Quesadilla comes with ham and chorizo and the Campechana has the option to add a meat from the daily choices.
Another all-time El Nopal favorite is the tacos. You can order three tacos or a single taco on the side. The meats change every day, but I always cross my fingers for chorizo, barbacoa, al pastor, or chicharron. You can usually check Instagram to see which meats they have. All of the tacos come on homemade corn tortillas with cilantro, onions, and lime.
To drink, they have Mexican beers and at the Pigalle location they have a very good homemade Michelada.
I love this little taste of home and Texas in Paris. The brick walls remind me of Rafa’s, my favorite spot in Dallas. Having Mexican food on a Sunday is one of my favorite traditions at home, so I’m glad to keep it going in a way in Paris. I love French food, but sometimes I just need a little Mexican food.
El Nopal Pigalle Menu
Pigalle – 5 Rue Dupérre, 75009 Paris
Canal Saint Martin – 3 Rue Eugene Varlin, 75010 Paris