Thanks to its iconic Painted Ladies, Alamo Square is one of San Francisco's most recognizable parks. (Photo by Fran on Unsplash)

Modern Guide to NoPa: Buzzy Restaurants, Indie Shops + the Iconic Painted Ladies

By

This story is brought to you by Poppy the AV, an all-electric self-driving Cruise vehicle, who knows the ins and outs of the City.


Longtime San Franciscans know this swath of the city as the Western Addition. But then some years back, one restaurant opened in the neighborhood North of the Panhandle and changed everything.

Nopa is still serving some of the best French toast in town, but its presence has redefined—and renamed—the neighborhood.

Today NoPa is one of the city's hippest emerging districts, with such anchors as Bi-Rite, Rare Device, and Bar Crudo holding down the place. Here you'll find cool dive bars alongside trendier watering holes; indie shops with cult followings; classic ice cream and kitschy Asian treats; and arguably the city's hottest restaurant opening of the last few years. Plus, it's all within walking distance to those pretty Painted Ladies at Alamo Square Park.


The Best Restaurants in NoPa

Che Fico Alimentari serves handmade pastas and pizzas within a retail space stocked with Italian pantry staples.

(Sarah Chorey)

Proper Meals

Blink and you'll miss Ken (252 Divisadero St.), an intimate six-seat sushi counter with a big pedigree: Chef Ken did stints at both Sushi Ran and Kusakabe before opening his own spot. The multi-course omakase menu is a mix of classic flavors and creative touches, with fish shipped directly from Tokyo's famed Toyosu market. // Being named one of the country's best new restaurants by Bon Appetit magazine a few years back didn't hurt the foot traffic at Che Fico (838 Divisadero St). But while the main restaurant has been closed through Covid, its more casual downstairs sibling, Che Fico Alimentari, is filling NoPa's pasta-sized hole. Chefs David Nayfeld, Angela Pinkerton, and partner Matt Brewer have created a mouth-watering seasonal menu inspired by Italian cuisine and made with California-fresh produce. // Bar Crudo (655 Divisadero St) is a favorite for those craving the simplest preparations of the freshest seafood. You'd be remiss if you didn't try their jalapeño-marinated mussels or seafood chowder. Don't miss happy hour from 5pm to 6:30pm, when oysters are $1. // Beretta's pop-up (661 Divisadero St) serves a mean cocktail and even meaner Italian comfort food—including wood-fired Neapolitan-style pies and antipasti like saffron arancini and octopus—just like at the original Mission pizzeria. // Zaytoon Mediterranean's (607 Divisadero St) second outlet in the city serves up popular shawarma wraps (made with local Superior Farms lamb and free range chicken), alongside spiced fries, salads and falafels. It's bigger digs than their Mission Street space, but the food is just as tasty. // Souvla's (531 Divisadero St.) second location has a nice patio for enjoying its pleasantly simple menu items. We love the chicken salad with their famous granch dressing (which you can make at home using this recipe) and the Greek-style frozen yogurt with olive oil and sea salt. Also look out for their new plant-based "lamb." // Enjoy incredible pizza and pasta on Ragazza's (311 Divisadero St) charming back patio. Try the Moto pizza with Calabrian chilies, portobello mushrooms, and sweet Italian sausage. For more decadence, crown it with an oozy egg. // Whether you're craving barbecue, a burger or even—gasp!—a salad, there is something for everyone at 4505 Burgers & BBQ Burgers & BBQ (705 Divisadero St). Some classics include the Best Damn Cheeseburger, slow-roasted brisket, and smoked whole chickens. Great local beers and wines are on tap to help wash it all down. // Nopa (560 Divisadero St) is known for its farm-fresh food, exquisite cocktails, and unique wine list. Their menu focuses on organic wood-fired cuisine created with seasonal ingredients sourced from local purveyors. We highly recommend the delicious custard french toast for brunch (which you can make at home using this secret recipe) and the wood-grilled hamburger on housemade brioche for dinner. // One of the few deep-dish spots in the city, Little Star Pizza (846 Divisadero St) is the perfect restaurant for a casual bite and relaxing night out. You can choose one of theirs (we like the deep-dish Little Star with spinach, ricotta, and mushrooms) or you can opt to build your own. Gluten-free crust is also available. // Michelin-starred Ju-ni (1335 Fulton St.) elevates the omakase experience in their tiny NoPa sushi bar (the restaurant seats just 12 diners). Each dish is meticulously sourced and prepared, with a different chef crafting the meal from start to finish. // The cozy cafe on the corner of Fulton and Divis is a neighborhood fave that serves up classics like scrambled eggs and sausage, bacon sandwiches, and hearty omelets in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. At cash-only Eddie's Cafe (800 Divisadero St.), meals come with the option of a house-baked biscuit or slices of bread, and coffee is served in quirky, mismatched mugs. Kick back against a red vinyl banquette or choose a bar perch where you'll have a full view of all the mugs collected over the years.


Snacks + Sweets

The Mill (736 Divisadero St.) is easily one of the coolest coffee shops in San Francisco, with major style (Boor Bridges designed its Scandinavian-inspired, loft-like architecture), serious sips (dark and rich Four Barrel Coffee), and fresh Josey Baker Bread (we like the whole-grain raisin and the black-pepper parmesan) that serves as the canvas for their awesome toast menu. // Beware high winds when tucking into the delightful Taiwanese icy desserts at Powder Shaved Snow (260 Divisadero St.). The lighter-than-air consistency makes them susceptible to strong gusts! We love the delicious Vietnamese coffee shaved ice topped with a drizzle of condensed milk. // Wholesome Bakery (299 Divisadero St) is a zen spot for home-baked gluten-, dairy-, egg-, and soy-free goodness, all freshly baked onsite. Enjoy a hot cup of mint tea from Steep Tea Co. while nibbling on a banana cream cupcake or a seasonal fruit galette. // The city loves its froyo. Loving Cup (608 Divisadero St) has found a niche between Emporium and Rare Device where it's serving up hand-churned frozen yogurt and housemade rice pudding. All servings are nonfat and made-to-order. Go with featured favorites like The Dude Abides or a pretzel-and-salted-caramel infused Salty Dog.

Where to Grab Drinks in NoPa

(Courtesy of Madrone Art Bar)

Bars

Designed with a modern aesthetic, Horsefeather Bar (528 Divisadero St.) has a gorgeous front seating area within a greenhouse-like setting. If you come for cocktails, you might want to try the Thunderbird (Beefeater gin, genepy, carpano bianco, pineapple, and orange bitters) or the Cool Breeze (Tempus Fugit crème de noyaux, vodka, lime, honey, herbs de Provence, rosé, and soda water). If you're tempted to try the food, a few of our favorites include the hummus and tomato salad and the fried chicken. // At Wine Kitchen (507 Divisadero St)., the extensive list is California-heavy and features nearly 20 by-the-glass selections and four local labels on tap. Pair the swigs with corn crêpes, tuna crudo, pork chops. or foie gras terrine. We recommend hitting this spot on a Monday, when you'll be able to get half-price bottles. // At Emporium SF (616 Divisadero St), you can feed tokens (four for a dollar) into classic games like Pac-Man and Mortal Combat II, or try your hand at a pool table or shuffleboard, all with a beer in hand. Expect neon lights, the occasional air hockey goal yowl of triumph, and a rotating list of guest DJs. // If you're looking for a truly authentic dive bar, jackpot! The Page Bar (298 Divisadero St) has an impressive 21 beers on tap including some local brews, such as Duboce Park IPA from SF's Local Brewing Co. and a black lager from Oakland's Linden Street Brewery, plus wine and cocktails. Challenge someone to a pool or foosball game and be sure to bring some change for the jukebox. // Fly Bar (762 Divisadero St.) has drinks at a great value and always a lively crowd. Their drink menu is largely focused on beer, featuring local labels such as Anchor Steam, Lagunitas, and El Toro Brewing Company. If you're in the mood for something a bit stronger, go for their sake or their famous sangria. // Madrone Art Bar (500 Divisadero St.) is best described as a "full-on art experience," with video, photography, and paintings paired with live music, DJs, and specialty cocktails. Notable local musicians who perform here include DJ El Kool Kyle, pianist and vocalist Suzanne Ramsey, and funk/soul group Atta Kid. Be sure to try the Herbie Hancock (Russian Standard vodka, watermelon, lime, sugar, guava juice) or the Luchadore (Mezcal Vida, tuaca, lime, and jalapeño agave). // Occupying the former Mojo Bicycle Bar, Fool's Errand (639A Divisadero St.) is a sweet watering hole for those in search of a craft beer or glass of Corsican vermentino. Owner John Dampeer (who previously ran Caskhouse and Hamlet in nearby Noe Valley) maintains the charm of a neighborhood spot but injects his own vibe with an enviable list of beers and wines.


For Teetotalers

Boba Guys (836 Divisadero St.) took bubble tea to the next level with freshly brewed teas, a selection of organic milks, and handmade house syrups and fruit purees. their ever-evolving menu features seasonal flavors alongside classics such as their delightful coffee milk tea. // There are options aplenty for caffeine fiends in the hood, especially with local roasters Sightglass Coffee (301 Divisadero St) opening a corner cafe that looks more like an elegant design lounge than a neighborhood coffee spot. Take your your smooth cappuccino to a seat near the windows for a cafe 'gram as you sip your expertly brewed pick-me-up.

Shopping in NoPa

(Courtesy of The Perish Trust)

For Design + Fashionphiles

Rare Device (600 Divisadero St.) is a quintessentially San Franciscan design shop that offers local, organic, handmade, indie goods such as Hipp & Kirk tote bags, Suga jewelry, and prints by Likely Lexi. // From proprietors Rod Hipskind and Kelly Ishikawa (an art director and a commercial photographer, respectively) comes the eclectic Perish Trust (728 Divisadero St.), a kind of modern take on a general store known for its a highly curated inventory. From Warby Parker sunglasses to Native American rugs, there's no shortage of must-haves for the cultured hipster. // Pop into Asmbly Hall (624 Divisadero St.) for streetwear staples, funky accessories, and the occasional soy candle. // You won't find mens and womens sections at Fibers of Being (645 Divisadero St.). This LGBTQ+-owned independent clothing store curates gender-fluid garments—plus a small selection of accessories and jewelry—for every body. // Sweet little shop Perdita (323 Divisadero St.) sells hand-crafted jewelry, home goods, and prints along with a fun selection of books that run the gamut from modern fiction to survival guides. // Specializing in local and independent designers, Onyx (289 Divisadero St.) has a fetching collection of women's and men's clothing hand-picked by the shop's stylish owners. The jewelry counter alone is worth a stop.


For Foodies

Bi Rite Market (550 Divisadero St.) is the grocer of foodie dreams—its bins and shelves overflow with the region's most gorgeous produce. Head there for the best apple selection in the business, plus pre-made deli foods, wines, and cheeses. On a nice day, join the league of fans queueing up for the famous homemade ice cream—every local knows the salted caramel is a classic. // Cookin' (339 Divisadero St.) is a favorite among chefs and home cooks for vintage cookery. The Divis institution is filled with funky latte bowls, 1970s Time/Life cookbooks, vintage Le Creuset, and copper pots. // The Divisadero Farmer's Market (10am to 2pm Sundays, 1377 Fell St.) brings together local favorites such as the Ravioli Lady and Juicey Lucy's.


Fun + Games

In the neighborhood since 1985, Gamescape (333 Divisadero St.) is the place to find puzzles, party games, collectible card games, vintage board games, and everything in between. Needless to say, if you're a Dungeons & Dragons buff, look no further. // Comic book lovers will find a huge assortment of new and used graphic novels and comic books at Comix Experience (305 Divisadero St.), such as Star Wars Vol 1: Skywalker Strikes, Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, and Bird Boy v2: Liminal Wood. A small selection of DVDs is also available, as well as T-shirts, figurines, and other comic-related goods.

Things to Do in Western Addition / NoPa

(Courtesy of The Independent)

Wellness

Enjoy limbering up with top instructors at Yoga Garden (286 Divisadero St.), a quaint studio housed in an old Victorian. Offering a diverse number of classes with a focus on Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Vinyasa style practices, the three classrooms are often packed with peeps getting their daily Om on. // Settle into the plush armchairs at Q-Spa (604 Divisadero St.), for a signature lava stone mani, Japanese Nail art stickers, or a. // At J.P. Kempt Barber Social (351 Divisadero St.), founder Shorty Maniace offers a modern barbershop experience. In addition to fades and faux-hawks, the shop specializes in beard trims and straight-razor shaves.


Sights + Entertainment

Alamo Square Park is one of the most recognizable parks in San Francisco because of its neighbors, the iconic Painted Ladies. Tourists and locals alike re-enact the Full House opening here daily. // For some of the best live music in the city, head to The Independent (628 Divisadero St), a general-admission, standing-room-mostly venue with a few first-come, first-serve seats. Past headliners include Sleigh Bells, Hayden James, Blitzen Trapper, and Lord Huron.

Meet Poppy, Cruise's all-electric self-driving spokesvehicle. Five years of nonstop driving in San Francisco has made her a local's local. Like you, Poppy has been exploring every corner and celebrating all the city has to offer. From her very first drive to delivering thousands of meals during the pandemic, Poppy's journey is a love letter to San Francisco, one neighborhood at a time. Be sure to also follow her adventures and unique city knowledge on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

Thank you to our partners at Cruise.

Related Articles
Most Popular
Neighborhoods
From Our Partners