As part of Best Restaurant Week (yes, we totally made it up), we’re featuring stories from some of our restaurant partners. Check out our blog Nov 1–6 for new stories every day, and use code BESTWEEK for a $0 delivery fee on your order subtotaled $30+ all week.
Nopalito is a sustainable Mexican kitchen in the heart of San Francisco. Co-Owner/Chefs Gonzalo Guzman and Laurence Jossel pride themselves on the ingredients used in their creations, promoting transparency by displaying the list of farms they work with right on the restaurant’s site.
An enthusiastic fan base has allowed the restaurant to grow to two locations — but we prefer our Nopalito delivered at home. Nopalito has some of the best Mexican food in San Francisco, and the Totopos Con Chile and Tacos Dorados de Camote are among the most popular dishes with Caviar diners.
Opening their first Nopalito location was an eye-opening experience for Chef Guzman:
“The biggest lesson I learned is that to be a good leader you need to trust in other people. You want to do everything yourself and control all parts of the restaurant — you don’t want anyone else to touch your food, your work, etc., but that isn’t sustainable and it just doesn’t work. It’s not just about the food; to have a successful restaurant, it is about the people as much as the food. You are only good as the team that surrounds you.”
Asked about what has surprised him the most about his success, Chef Guzman said:
“I truthfully didn’t have big expectations when I first started; I just wanted to do what I loved. I wanted to open one restaurant that represented the food on which I was raised. And now we have two restaurants, I am working on a cookbook and I am constantly looking for new ways to challenge myself.”
His passion for cooking and overall determination has taken Chef Guzman a long way. He was born in Mexico and immigrated to the US at just 15, settling in San Francisco without English skills. Over time he went from being a dishwasher to joining the hot line, picking up his cooking skills along the way. The best advice Chef Guzman has ever received is “be patient if you want to get things done; success takes time” — an anecdote for his journey so far.