Where to Eat and Drink in NoPa
An acronym for "north of the panhandle," NoPa lies north of Golden Gate Park's eastern extension, right in the middle of the city. This makes it a stand-out destination for sightseeing and, of course, eating. Here are our favorite places in the neighborhood for food and drink. How many can you visit on your next trip to San Francisco?
4505 Burgers & BBQ (705 Divisadero St.)
A real butcher presides over this buzzy BBQ spot, which serves homemade comfort food and stays opens late. Smoked meats are the star of the show. Thick wedges of pork, beef brisket, and chicken jostle for plate space with fries, 'slaw, pickles, and a warm buttery parker house roll. Of course, there are veggie options — the grits and egg sandwich comes with roasted green chili peppers, stinky cheese, and a buttery, griddled bun — but, for the most part, diners devour the carnivore cuisine. This place is home to one of San Francisco's last authentic wood-fired BBQ pits and chefs source their meats from local farmers. It's worth the visit for that alone.
Bar Crudo (655 Divisadero St.)
As the name implies, Bar Crudo specializes in meticulously prepared raw fish dishes, as well as delicious oysters and other seafood. Stop by for happy hour, when oysters are only $1.
Barrel Head Brewhouse (1785 Fulton St.)
With more than 40 beers on tap — and cocktails to boot — this NoPa brewpub has quenched thirsts for years. The bottomless mimosa ($20, served daily until 2.30 p.m.) satisfies the lunchtime crowd, but it's the guest draft beers—gloriously strong IPAs and stouts that you won't find anywhere else—that you need to sample. Fill up with the American-style brunch — bacon, scrambled eggs, sourdough toast, and all the fixings — or indulge with French toast with strawberries, whipped cream, and a cranberry reduction. Come for happy hour on Thursday night (9 p.m.-close) and get $2 off selected brews.
Brenda's Meat and Three (919 Divisadero St.)
Brenda Buenviaje, New Orleans-born-and-raised, puts a modern spin on Big Easy classics at this Southern-style fave. The premise is simple: choose one meat and three sides from an ever-changing selection of down-home delicacies. Fried chicken, fried catfish, chicken-fried steak, a dollop of gravy — it's pure comfort food. Be sure to sample the beignets, New Orleans-style deep-fried pastries filled with chocolate or sweetened with cinnamon honey butter or spiced with cayenne, scallions, and cheddar.
Barvale (661 Divisadero St.)
Poached prawns and roasted rock cod are the stars of the show at this hip tapas spot, and Spanish-inspired cocktails make the perfect encore. Feast on the croquettes, generously filled with spicy ham and creamy bechamel, and follow it up with the lemony blistered shishito peppers. Thirsty? Try the Moorish Invasion, a heady blend of Spanish brandy, fino, pineapple, and harissa. Or return to the ultimate Spanish classic, sangria ,with rose wine, blood orange, tangy cinnamon, and ginger. Budget-conscious travelers can pull up a chair during happy hour, which runs Monday through Friday, 5-6.30 p.m., and enjoy $6 drinks and $1 pintxos.
Horsefeather (528 Divisadero St.)
Primarily a cocktail bar, this charming watering hole serves inventive drinks plus food that ranges from fried chicken to halibut ceviche. Open until 1 a.m., Horsefeather is great spot for a late-night bite.
Ijji Sushi (252 Divisadero St.)
This intimate Japanese restaurant is committed to only using the best ingredients. Their sushi is strictly nigiri, but a 19-course, omakase-style meal will keep you on your toes (think sea urchin and barracuda). Be sure to call ahead as seating is limited.
Kung Food (1615 McAllister St.)
This NoPa cornerstone serves Hunan and Mandarin fare in a no-frills space with bright pink walls. The menu is huge, with starters, soups, mains, desserts, and specials all competing for your attention. The chef's menu is the best place to start. Delve deeper into the menu, though, and you'll discover a treasure trove of exotic dishes, including Mongolian chicken and string-bean fish.
Little Star Pizza (846 Divisadero St.)
This pizzeria, a San Francisco staple since 2004, serves authentic deep-dish and thin-crust pies. Cozy corners with exposed brick walls entice hungry locals who choose their own toppings: feta, roasted zucchini, bacon, pineapple, and pepperoncini. Known for their cornmeal crust, Little Star is great for the gluten-free crowd, as well as vegetarians. Happy hour (Monday and Tuesday, 5-9.30 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 5-6.30 p.m.) attracts the bulk of guests, who come for the pizza and stay for dessert. The warm chocolate brownie, served with a generous scoop of gelato, is the menu's stand-out.
Madrone Art Bar (500 Divisadero St.)
Is it a bar? Is it a gallery? Why can't it be both? At Madrone, local artists have their creations displayed to the friendly neighborhood clientele in a fun and eccentric setting. The cocktails are tasty, the staff is friendly, and there's even live music some nights. What more could you ask for?
The Mill (736 Divisadero St.)
Is there anything better than a hot coffee and slab of sourdough bread on a foggy San Francisco morning? Locals flock to this artisan java shop for their daily caffeine fix, where chirpy baristas blend hand-roasted coffees in a vintage steel roaster. "Toast service" runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for most of the year. The molasses brown bread, slathered with a blob of jam, always hits the spot, as does the chocolate hazelnut on country bread. There are the usual coffee options — cappuccino, espresso, Americano — as well as more expensive, exotic blends from Kenya, Colombia, and Ethiopia. If you're in the area at dusk, sample a slice of classic cheese pizza and dip it in the homemade ranch sauce. It's a match made in heaven.
Namu Stonepot (553 Divisadero St.)
For a heaping helping of fresh and delicious ingredients, head to Namu Stonepot. Choose beef, chicken or poke to add to your big bowl of rice, egg and seven vegetables. You have to come hungry, so that even after your main course you can enjoy their matcha mikshake.
Nopa (560 Divisadero St.)
This neighborhood namesake serves Californian fare in a modern building on Divisadero St. On weekday evenings, this place bustles with workers who slurp colorful cocktails. Creative concoctions include the Stiff Upper Lip (London gin, the aperitif Bruto Americano, lemon) and the Black Mamba (scotch, lime, tonic). The food menu changes weekly, but expect fresh ingredients from farmers' markets around the Bay Area: juicy pork chops, orange-glazed sweet potatoes, seared duck breast, roasted black cod, and more. Stop here for weekend brunch after a morning stroll in Golden Gate Park. Meat-lovers can bite into the bacon-wrapped meatloaf served with spicy pickles and gremolata, while custard french toast with seared apples and spiced butter provides a lighter alternative.
Nopalito (306 Broderick St.)
Combining regional Mexican recipes with locally sourced, organic ingredients, Nopalito represents the best of San Francisco. The menu changes daily. One day you might encounter black-bean-stuffed corn tortillas with citrus-achiote chicken, pickled red onions and salsa de habanero; the next it might be lime-marinated fish with calamari, green olives, capers, basil, red onion and corn tortilla chips.
Oasis Cafe (901 Divisadero St.)
Ethiopian cuisine dominates the menu here. Try the chicken tibs — tender, boneless chicken sauteed in spices and cooked with onion, tomatoes, garlic, and vegetable oil. They won't disappoint you. There's a sensational smoothie menu, with refreshing banana/orange/pineapple and kiwi-strawberry concoctions for just $5. This place draws a laid-back crowd who come here for brunch and sit on the outdoor terrace.
The Page (298 Divisadero St.)
This no-frills, cash-only, neighborhood dive is the perfect place for a relaxed night out with friends. It has pool tables and foosball, and is open until 2 a.m. Whether you start the night here or use it to wind down after a busy night out, The Page is a reliable favorite.
Ragazza (311 Divisadero St.)
This dinner spot focuses on Neapolitan-style thin crust pizzas and other Italian favorites like antipasti and baked pasta. Peruse their Italian-inspired wine list on the back patio while you decide between their house-made ricotta cavatelli or bianca pizza with onion crema, shaved garlic, preserved lemon, aged Italian provolone and wild arugula.
Souvla (531 Divisadero St.)
The second outpost of the popular Hayes Valley spot, NoPa's Souvla specializes in Greek-style rotisserie meats. Served as either a salad or a pita, Souvla does one thing and does it well. Trust us, you'll be dreaming about this gyros for months afterward.
Tsunami Panhandle (1306 Fulton St.)
This small-plate Sushi restaurant churns out Japanese staples in a bustling, modern space on Fulton St., near Alamo Square Park. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, try the alligator. It's panko-fried and served with juicy chunks of avocado. Wash it down with a glass of sake (or two). If that doesn't strike your fancy, stick to the basics. Try the sashimi and spider rolls; you won't regret it. All the fish comes from Japan’s famous Tsukiji Market. Locals rave about the Oysterette Happy Hour (call to check times), where patrons get a dozen complimentary oysters with any bottle purchase of shochu. It's like sake but not as sweet.