The Best Restaurants In NoPa guide image


The Best Restaurants In NoPa

There’s more to the neighborhood than Nopa.

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 dinner spot. That’s where we come in. The next time you’re looking to plan a meal in the area, just use this guide—it’s got the 19 best spots to eat.



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 pork chops, flatbreads, pastas, and one of our favorite burgers 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.

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 (though, there will likely be a line at prime time), 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.

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. Which is why we set multiple alarms and called on a higher power just to get our hands on them during Schlok’s pop-up days—now we simply walk up to the takeout window and order. Our go-to is a bagel with schmear and house-cured lox, which is nice and salty and has traces of dill. Schlok's lineup also includes excellent bagel sandwiches. They’re massive, stuffed with things like caper schmear, eggs, sweet pepper butter, and cheese, and are an excellent way to start your morning.

We always return to Che Fico for fantastic pastas, small plates, and cheesy pizzas with charred crusts. We also like to fill our table with a family-style spread of octopus and tender pork belly, rich bolognese, and wood-fired margherita pies. The Italian restaurant is also home to one of our favorite 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.

Che Fico Alimentari is the more casual sister restaurant to Che Fico, and is located right downstairs. We love grabbing a seat at one of their high-top tables or a seat at the bar and ordering the cacio e pepe along with a few small plates, like the crispy supplí or the focaccia with whipped mascarpone. They also serve sausage, salumi, and pineapple pizzas with nicely charred crusts, which you should definitely try.

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.

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 $7 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.

Brenda’s Meat & Three is the smaller offshoot from the people behind Brenda’s French Soul Food in the Tenderloin. Here you order one entree and three sides like mac and cheese or green beans to go with it. When you’re trying to decide what meat to get, know that their fried chicken is excellent.

In a 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 tiny, corgi-themed Japanese cafe a few blocks away from Divisadero on Masonic is one of our favorite lunch spots in the area. Their poke bowls are loaded with super fresh fish and your choice of customizable toppings, and their housemade Japanese curry is silky-smooth and rich. It’s the perfect spot to stop by on a weekday when you need a quick power up.

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 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. The fact that there are only 12 seats at the counter, and one chef for every four guests certainly adds to the intimate feel. And somehow, the bare white and wood interior always makes us more relaxed than when we walked in.  

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 chill 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. 

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.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

photo credit: Krescent Carasso

The Best Restaurants In NoPa guide image