Best Salad - 2013
We've heaped praise on Coppelia before: Julian Medina—who's also behind Yerba Buena and Toloache—opened this eclectic pan-Latin diner two years back, and we were initially drawn to the late-night eats and fish tacos. But since the most tempting order here is a cut of meat plus rice and beans or something doughy and fried, it took us a while to get around to ordering the Havana salad, which is undoubtedly the biggest sleeper hit on the menu. A bed of emerald-hued kale comes studded with cubes of salty queso fresco, sprinkled with crunchy pepitas, and overlaid with thin slices of tomato. The mixture is lightly but thoroughly coated in a tart lemon vinaigrette infused with just a hint of mustard seed that gives each bite a subtle lift, enhancing the slight spiciness of the leaves. Light and rejuvenating, the salad makes the trendy green that comprises it seem fresh again—and gives us reason to love this restaurant anew.