Acorn squash dish
Last week I mentioned to my sweet significant other that I really wanted to try Nopales. After reading about it in our upcoming publication, I couldn’t help myself.
We hadn’t intended to go this weekend, but after a movie at the Grandin we were left hungry and adventurous, as movies tend to do to you. Off to Nopales it was.
Walking inside was a treat in and of itself. The lighting was dim and purposeful, in the kind of way I’ve felt in Richmond and Charlotte restaurants, not so much in Roanoke. It was small and full, people were chatting away in booths and at the bar. Taps set against the wall, a beautiful chalkboard menu display behind them. It begged you to stay awhile.
We were sat in a little cove towards the back, next to a wall of wine bottles tucked into a wooden shelving unit. It was cozy and let the two of us chat quietly away.
Beyond starving, we quickly went through the menu. Much of which we could barely understand. He would google one word, I the other. Eventually we mapped out what was what and placed our orders. He chose the soup of the day, a seafood gumbo in Coconut milk and plenty of Caribbean spices. I ordered Acorn Squash with Red Quinoa and Black Beans.
You could smell the food before it hit the table. The aroma was amazing. When our server brought the plates out we were both in awe. “How delicious,” we both agreed in stares from across the table, words unnecessary.
“So good,” he said, “the best soup I’ve ever had.” He told me then, and again later to the waitress.
As a vegetarian, finding a real meal in places like this can be a challenge. Finding a meal with so much flavor is almost impossible. It was smokey and spicy, every bite left me wanting another. The crunch of Pepita (toasted Pumpkin seeds) was a welcome texture change alongside the softness of the beans and quinoa. The spice was tamed by the sweet cornbread muffins that accompanied the dish. Those too were unlike any cornbread muffin I’d previously had, and I’ve had a lot of cornbread muffins in my day. I ate until I was so delightfully full, and then my fella, who despises acorn squash, ate the rest – loving every bite.
I had no idea walking into the restaurant just how lovely the experience would be. So go see a movie, then indulge in Nopales, and enjoy the company of whomever takes the adventure into Grandin with you.