Local eats: El Nopal
One of the many places people know about in this valley is El Nopal. Let’s face it — when they had a location in Basalt, they could barely keep up with orders because it’s one of the most authentic Mexican restaurants in the valley.
So with that in mind, we needed to finally talk to the owner and see what the secret was.
Susie Jimenez: You are very popular and have been for years. Tell us a little about your method and the second location you opened in Glenwood Springs.
Elena Argeta, owner: We had our Basalt location since 1994 but unfortunately had to close it. We did open the Glenwood Springs one in the 2000s because we were in such high demand. We are very lucky to have been able to open it before the Basalt location closed because we have such support and dedication with the valley that they would have missed us.
SJ: What are you known for?
EA: We are a taqueria, meaning we do tacos mostly, but our tortas and burritos are so popular as well. We make our own tortillas in house, so they add that home flavor.
SJ: You must have a margarita that is ordered often. What is it, and what makes it so special compared to others?
EA: We have named a margarita after a client of ours kept coming in and making us create the same flavor each time she arrived. So with that, the Cristina Margarita was born. She has made it a special one for us, and everyone loves it.
SJ: Is there a dish that everyone seems to order besides your famous tacos?
EA: Yes, our mariscada, which is a dish full of seafood. Crab, shrimp, octopus, clams and fish all cooked in a diablo (spicy red sauce). You can’t beat this one, and it has become so famous among our clients. We typically are not known for seafood, but we do listen to our clients, and they want seafood, so that’s what we will do.
Side Note from the owner: Our food is all made in-house; nothing is ordered from other companies, in jars or canned. We stand by the consistency of our food every time you order it so you get the same thing. We believe that making it ourselves is the only way — tortillas, desserts, our fresh waters and sauces.