SFGuide

The Best Restaurants In NoPa

There’s more to the neighborhood than Nopa.
A spread of flatbread, the burger, latkes, and the pork chop at Nopa

photo credit: Erin Ng

Whatever you choose to call it, the neighborhood north of The Panhandle has a high concentration of great restaurants, bars, cafes, and bakeries along and just off of Divisadero Street—so many that it can be hard to narrow down a place to eat. That’s where we come in. The next time you’re looking to eat breakfast burritos, glistening pork chops, or a loaded bowl of seafood chowder, just use this guide.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Erin Ng

American

Nopa

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightEating At The BarBirthdays
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Nopa has become an SF classic, and after all these years, it’s still tough to get a reservation. But the regularly changing menu of things like giant bowls of bolognese, flatbreads, pastas, and one of our favorite pork chops in the city is worth the effort. Or, if you’re willing to take your chances, you can hover around the bar and wait for a few seats to open up.

photo credit: Brit Finnegan

If you're in NoPa when a noodle craving hits and you want to be in and out before the fog rolls in, here's excellent news: Katsuo + Kombu fits the bill. Going to this snug noodle shop is a comforting experience and one that involves diving into the city’s finest Fukuoka-style udon. Stroll up to the counter and choose anything from their simple menu of just eight bowls. The housemade noodles are thinner and chewier than other noodles around the city, and when combined with rich dashi broth (made of katsuobushi and wild kombu), you’ve got a winning combination. Go for the spicy tan tan dry noodles with juicy kurobuta pork or the incredible Fukuoka signature with the massive, crispy burdock root tempura on top.

Eddie’s Cafe is doling out old-school diner nostalgia in NoPa. The corner spot is always packed with regulars who greet staff by name, solo breakfast-goers snagging a stool at the counter, and friends nursing hangovers with coffee in one of the eclectic, well-worn mugs. A hearty plate of eggs, crisp hash browns, and pork sausage or bacon will only run you around $12 (be sure to get the housemade biscuits on the side), which is cheaper than a single mimosa at other brunch spots around town. And since everyone knows it, prepare to wait for a table. 

Early To Rise is a brunch spot where you’ll soak in tons of natural light and catch constant whiffs of bacon, coffee, and donuts. The daytime spot makes almost everything on their menu from scratch, from the challah for the butter-drenched french toast to the golden brown bagels. Snag a seat by the window and share some pancakes with your breakfast date—just know that there are no reservations, so you’ll probably have to take some laps around the block while you wait for a table.

The New York-style bagels coming out of Schlok’s brick-and-mortar are always chewy, evenly coated on all sides with various seasonings, and consistently golden-brown. Our go-to is a simple bagel with just schmear and house-cured lox, which is nice and salty and has traces of dill. Schlok's lineup also includes massive bagel sandwiches stuffed with things like caper schmear, eggs, sweet pepper butter, and cheese.

We always return to Che Fico for fantastic pastas, small plates, and cheesy pizzas with charred crusts. The Italian restaurant is also home to one of the most impressive dining rooms in the city—so be prepared to spend a good part of your meal admiring the fig-patterned wallpaper, skylights, cured meats hanging from the ceiling, and the brightly-colored mismatched tiles. And if you want something more casual, head to their downstairs sister restaurant, Che Fico Alimentari.

Walk anywhere in the vicinity of Alamo Square and you’ll probably see a few people on a park bench, gazing lovingly at a tightly-wrapped sandwich from Lucinda’s Deli & More. This is SF sandwich royalty—their baguette sandwiches are stuffed with so much filling that they look like burritos, and each has expertly balanced levels of salt, sweet, and spice. Case in point: their spicy tuna melt masterpiece with rainbow layers of pickled jalapeños, cheddar, arugula, and tomato. It’s also our go-to order.

Next time you wake up feeling like a hungover gremlin on a Sunday morning, get your day back on track with a breakfast burrito from Manitas Cafe. The walk-in spot, decked out with colorful tapestries and mosaic tables, serves Mexican, Salvadoran, and other Central American dishes all day. The burrito stuffed with chorizo, bacon, and potatoes is life-giving, but we also love their plato típico, which comes with a scramble, tortillas, and plantains fried to crisp-edged perfection. 

4505 Burgers & BBQ has more outdoor seating than every other place in NoPa combined, and they make some of the best barbecue in the city. And on nice days, sitting at one of the picnic tables on their covered patio—ideally with a platter of brisket and ribs in front of you—is right where you need to be. And if the cold starts to roll in, there are heaters.

This is one of our favorite first-date spots in the city. The raw bar is small and intimate, but there’s always enough going on that you won’t feel like your date can hear all the nervous thoughts in your head. There’s also a great Happy Hour Monday to Saturday with $2 oysters and $9 glasses of wine, which is perfect for when you don’t want to spend more than you have to with someone you may or may not see again.

The glassed-in patio makes Horsefeather an ideal place to come for brunch when it’s chilly, but you still want to be outside. At night, though, it feels more like a bar with good food than a full-blown restaurant. Come here for an early-in-the-game date, or when the wait at Nopa is longer than you’re willing to put up with. Make sure to order the burger, pork tacos, or the poke bowl.

In a dream world where full-time jobs are optional hobbies, every morning would start with a long breakfast at The Mill. You could spend hours at this cafe and bakery gazing at the frequently changing art installations and watching stylish neighbors getting their daily caffeine dose, especially if you stay fueled by their phenomenal Josey Baker Bread. The whole-grain sourdough is tangy and crusty, and serves as the base for toast (what this place is known for) topped with things like smashed avocado, cinnamon and sugar, and ricotta and seasonal housemade jam.

This place is from the same people as Nopa, except instead of pork chops and flatbreads, Nopalito makes Mexican dishes, like carnitas and huge bowls of pozole. Most of the seating here is on a back patio, but it’s covered and there are heaters—so if the weather isn’t ideal, you can still come here for margaritas over lunch and not worry about being enveloped by fog.

Chances are high that you, your best friend, or your best friend’s hairdresser’s cousin has been to Ju-ni at least once—and can describe the seaweed-wrapped ikura covered in a mountain of shaved frozen monkfish liver like it was yesterday. This 12-seat spot in NoPa is bucket list omakase ($198), and for good reason. During the 14-course set dinner of mostly nigiri, you’ll get up close to high-end, Japan-sourced fish and tightly-wrapped, chef’s choice temaki. The rice is warm and lightly seasoned allowing the buttery tuna, wild horse mackerel, and king salmon to shine.

For birthdays in NoPa, we always turn to Ragazza. In addition to great Italian food, this place has a garden with a gazebo you’ll wish was in your own backyard. If you have six or more friends to fill it, you can rent out the gazebo and have a semi-private hang with thin-crust pizzas, pastas, and lots of wine.

The city’s only German bakery is churning out excellent treats that are as beautiful as they are delicious. There are a ton of options: traditional honey-topped bee sting cake, the layered prinzregententorte, an ultra-light Black Forest, and so on. The pastries and pretzels at Hahdough are top-tier as well, so consider popping into the small space for a light and fluffy seasonal jam or custard-filled Berliner. There’s a Hayes Valley takeout window, but the NoPa bakery has a bigger selection, and a few tables in back to enjoy immediately. 

photo credit: Raphael Latrache

$$$$Perfect For:Small Plates

Beretta’s original location in the Mission has always been one of our go-to spots for Italian small plates and cocktails—and they now have a location on Divisadero. Grab a seat inside and start off with some burrata with mushroom-truffle honey for the table. They have a solid Happy Hour menu on weekdays until 6pm, along with brunch on weekends.

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