El Nopal — Downtown

1041 Zorn Avenue  Louisville, KY 40207
(502) 897-5541

One particularly humid Monday afternoon, we felt a craving for margaritas coming on. As self-imposed Highlands hostages, Sol Aztecas, located less than a mile down the road, was naturally our first choice. Unfortunately, there were no happy hours listed on their website and being Millenials the thought of picking up the phone was too much to bear.

A quick Google search showed El Nopal, a family owned Mexican franchise dominating the results pages. Similar to the multitude of cheese, beans, meat and tortilla concoctions served up by Mexican restaurants (with only slight variations), El Nopal appears in 14 iterations throughout Louisville. Burrito or taco? Zorn Avenue or Paramount Park Drive? How do we choose?

When presented with the same restaurant in slightly different packages, factors like atmosphere carry more weight. Only able to view each restaurant as a dot on a Google map, we quickly made a semi-blind decision. Having driven on Zorn Avenue a few times when we attended waterfront concerts we thought that a location overlooking the Ohio river would provide reprieve from the oppressive 95 degree heat.

If only we had taken the two seconds to zoom in…

Black asphalt as far as the eye could see— we turned off of Zorn and found ourselves in a Ramada Inn parking lot. An annex to the hotel, this El Nopal probably has the worst atmosphere of their many locations. Stubbornly sticking to our initial plan of sipping margaritas in an outdoor oasis, we unassumingly asked to be seated outdoors. With raised eyebrows, our server hesitantly presented the patio barricaded with tall iron bars overlooking more pavement. 7 minutes later, drenched in sweat, we collected our belongings and covertly slipped indoors.

$1.99 frozen lime margarita offered all day on Monday and Wednesday

Plagued with decision fatigue, we almost welcomed the lack of options for this location’s margarita special. 12 ounces. Lime. Frozen. The choice was made for us at the Zorn Avenue El Nopal and the drink did not disappoint. It is important to note that specials vary based on location. Many of the other locations offer discounts on flavored margaritas, pitchers and food. Thirteen more El Nopal reviews coming soon…

A breakdown of our 3-star rating: We’ve noticed a trend that the majority of margarita specials in Louisville happen to land on Wednesday. We can only assume that El Nopal must be a  member of a local Mexican restaurant cartel, which at some point conspired to discount drinks on Wednesdays (perhaps to compete with El Mundo’s reign as margarita king?). El Nopal differentiates itself from the rest with all day availability on Mondays and Wednesdays, a nice perk for the alternatively employed. However, in contrast with its sister locations, the Zorn Avenue El Nopal does not have as an extensive array of drink specials. As for the drink itself, the frozen margarita was refreshing and strong but tasted just like that of any other comparably priced Mexican restaurant.

Jasmine Ashton & Megan Feil, June 10, 2012

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Our Happy Hours is a one-stop-shop for everything happy hour related. We provide a comprehensive list of ongoing food and drinks specials with accompanying reviews
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