One of my favorite cities to visit in the South is Savannah, Georgia. Downtown Savannah is quintessential and has a beautiful riverwalk – I love the steamboats they have that seem like they’re out of Disney, the colonial style architecture, and the artsy atmosphere the city posses from being the location of Savannah College of Art and Design. I was happy to travel to Savannah to visit my friend Steven, whom I’ve mentioned before is Columbian. He always raves about a restaurant called La Nopalera, which is a traditional Mexican restaurant. He’s picky with his Hispanic food and says he doesn’t like most Mexican food except for La Nopalera because, “it’s always good.”
I had been craving fajitas for a few weeks prior, so I immediately knew I wanted to try their fajitas. Knowing that they serve traditional food, I wanted to try to branch out from the typical fajitas and spruce it up with something different. The Molcajete caught my eye while looking at the menu. It was described as steak, chicken and shrimp marinated in their Ranchero salsa, then grilled with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. It said it was served on a heated Molcajete topped with Oaxaca cheese and grilled Nopal (cactus). In addition, it came with tortillas, rice, beans and Mexican salad. I’ve never had cactus or Oaxaca cheese, nor had I ever heard of a heated Molcajete. The more ingredients in a dish that I’ve never heard of or tried, the more intrigued I am and likely to order it. I asked Steven for his opinion, and he said he’d never tried it, but he had seen it and thought it looked weird. That settled it – I had to get it.
When my dish came out, I was overwhelmed. It was way more food than I had anticipated. Forget the Mexican salad, rice, beans and tortillas – the dish itself was monstrous. The Molcajete it was served it was so interesting in appearance – it looked like a spice grinder in the shape of a bull, but way bigger. I was excited to dig in and try the huge green cactus on top. The rest of my food was underneath it and all mixed together in a sort of hodgepodge, which is how I like to eat my food.
I first tried the cactus, but it didn’t have much flavor to it. The texture of it was very sleek feeling, and it was soft but not overly soft – I had to use a knife to cut it. I enjoyed mixing it with the rest of my food, though. Their Ranchero salsa was spicy, which I loved. The meat in it was all cooked well, but overall just tasted like their salsa and cheese, with typical Spanish flavors. I had Googled what Oaxaca cheese is, and I found out it’s a semi-hard Mexican cheese that has a mozzarella string-like texture, and is similar in flavor to un-aged Monterey Jack. The cheese looked a lot like mozzarella, and I thought it was a first, but I could taste the Monterey Jack flavor in it. My only complaint was that it was kind of oily, which made it look like a big soup. However, it was so delicious. What I really liked about this dish was the amount of components in it that helped build the flavors. I loved piling it on my tortilla with lettuce, rice and guacamole.
The interior of the restaurant wasn’t anything spectacular, but the food was good and the prices were fair. I don’t have any complaints about the waiter either, so all in all it was an overall good experience. I wish La Nopalera were closer to me, because this is the best Mexican food I’ve had in a while.
108 Mall Blvd, Savannah, GA 31406
Mon-Thur 11:00am – 10:00pm; Fri 11:00am – 10:30pm; Sat 11:30am – 10:30pm; Sun 11:30am – 10:00pm