Nopalitos Southwestern Café
Featured: Inside Sacramento – East Sac
Southwestern cooking is a savory family affair at Nopalitos Southwestern Café, where husband and wife owners Dave and Rose Hanke (shown at right) share duties in the kitchen and front of the house. Opened in 1992 and packed with customers ever since, Nopalitos takes its name from the nopal cactus, a staple in Mexican kitchens beloved for its versatility and light, tangy flavor. The Hankes are masters of nopal cooking and coax delicious, understated magic from the edible, elongated cactus pads. Dave typically works the stove, while Rose bakes, serves dishes and maintains the restaurant’s books. Nopalitos devotees arrive early for chile verde, chile colorado, smothered burrito, vegetarian Nopalitos quesadilla with roasted poblano chilies, along with traditional tamales, tostadas and tacos. As befits its home-style provenance, Nopalitos maintains quirky hours—the doors are open only for breakfast and lunch, and the kitchen closes on weekends. Yet even with this limited opening schedule this Sacramento restaurant still draws crowds.