Catering Events FAQ

Do you travel for events outside of San Francisco?

Yes! We’ll go most anywhere we’re invited. Staff travel time is $15/hour. Additional vehicle rental, lodging and mileage fees may apply.

May I purchase my own beer, wine and liquor?

Yes, we welcome you to purchase your own beer, wine and liquor. We have several guidelines in place to maintain a certain consistency & standard when we’re pouring behind the bar:

  1. We can provide refreshing Nopalito beverages (margaritas, sangria, agua frescas, etc.) or a more expanded bar menu & other signature cocktails
  2. We work with many area breweries and vineyards, and can also source delicious local kegs and wine
  3. We’re happy to pour beer, wine & liquor you purchase, however you must let us provide all mixers and all agave-based liquors (tequila & mezcal)
  4. If you would like to make your own drinks similar to those we offer (tequila, mezcal, sangria or agua frescas), or if you prefer to provide your own liquor and mixers, we cannot provide your bartending services. In this case, you’re welcome to hire another vendor for bar service

Do you offer tastings?

Because we’re a restaurant, we instead encourage you to come in to dine with us at your leisure so you can experience the food and hospitality first hand. We will extend a 50% discount on the food portion of your bill. Please contact us so we can assist you in arranging a time.

Do you offer rentals? Can you coordinate my rentals?

Yes, and yes! We offer some basic rental items, and will coordinate renting anything else you might need as part of our general event services. We work with a variety of local rental companies to find the best value for each event.

Who works at your events?

We are fortunate to have a wonderful network of current & former staff and friends who love supporting our catered events. Our crew has a real passion for hospitality and a true commitment to the food and your experience.

How much does a Nopalito catered event cost?

This is a tricky question, best answered by a custom proposal based on your plans. Event costs vary widely depending on menu & beverage selections, rental & service needs and the venue.

We pride ourselves on being able to accommodate a wide range of budgets and styles. In 2018, our average fully catered offsite event cost was $136 per guest, with a median cost of $142 per guest. Please reach out to learn about some of the other styles that we offer!

How is the cost of an event determined?

The total event cost is comprised of per guest food and beverage costs + an itemized rentals & supplies order + labor, which is based on the duration of your event and actual staffing plans. The subtotal is then subject to a 18% production fee and 8.50% sales tax.

What is the 18% production fee?

The production fee covers a variety of work outside of the event itself, including coordination, calls & planning, menu development, a site visit, rental coordination, and really anything else that comes up that might require our support. The hourly labor charges are strictly for the event itself, so this helps defer the cost of the time and care that goes into your event in the days, weeks and months prior.

Is gratuity included in your rates?

Our hourly labor rates are based on what a server or cook would make during a shift in our restaurants, including tips. Additional gratuity is not necessary.

Are kids’ meals free? Do we need to feed our photographer?

For per person food and beverage prices, children ages five and under are on the house, while kids ages six to ten are half price. We’re also happy to feed your photographer, band, wedding coordinator, etc. at half price.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept all major credit cards, debit cards and cash. Event deposits and balances may also be paid by check, payable to “El Nixtamal.”

What is the process to plan an event with you? Where do we start?

There are several phases to the event-planning process:

  1. Exploration: We’ll learn a little about each other and your event needs, and provide you with an initial proposal to see if this is a good fit. We can meet in person, talk on the phone, or email to get the details.
  2. Contracting: If you decide you’d like to work with us, we’ll provide you with a contract to review & sign. This contract books us for your event date, and asks you to commit to a minimum guaranteed guest count (typically at least 75% of your estimated final guest count).
  3. Site Check/Walk Through: Unless it’s quite far away, we’ll meet at your venue together to walk through the event flow and finalize your timeline and rental needs. Site checks can be conducted any time after signing a contract, ideally about 4-6 weeks before your event.
  4. Deposit: A 50% deposit is due 30 days before your event.
  5. Seasonal Selections: A couple weeks before your event we’ll have some final menu choices for you to make based on the latest seasonal offerings.
  6. Finalization: The week before we’ll touch base to tie up any loose ends and receive your final guest count. Your balance is due on the day of the event.

Do you provide certificates of insurance, fire permits or a liquor license?

Yes, we can provide all the necessary documentation for your event and venue. Whether you need a certificate of insurance or workers compensation, a fire permit or a liquor license, we’ll take care of it.

Do I need to hire a day-of or event coordinator?

It really depends on the complexity of your event. Many of our wedding clients find they do not need a coordinator, but some do. We’ll take care of every element of food & beverage service, including developing your service timeline & floor plan, coordinating rentals, and overseeing foodservice setup & breakdown. We do not provide support for: event design, lighting, transportation, decorations, booking other vendors, flowers or music.

Can you recommend other vendors?

We love working with florist Rebekah Northway, aka the Petaler. You can check out her work and get in touch at