Even if you’ve been living in a secluded cave for the last five years, chances are you probably would’ve still heard about NOPA. As a restaurant that defined and shaped an entire neighborhood, NOPA has been a prominent force in the City’s culinary picture for years – one which everyone seems to have an opinion about.
While I was familiar with the name, I had heard from a few people that it seemed overrated, so I was always hesitant to try it out for myself. Thank god a good friend of mine finally dragged me there for a late-night feast, because as soon as that first bite hit my mouth I knew all of those other people were just flat-out wrong: NOPA deserves all of the attention it has received.
It’s not reinventing New American cuisine, and it’s not trying to be one of the most refined restaurants in the City. There is value in simplicity, and NOPA offers straight-forward, seasonal, well-composed dishes that taste fantastic. Bruschetta with butter beans ($11), Sun Gold tomato, and grilled calamari isn’t shockingly original, but the execution and flavor is spot-on; serving up a Grass-Fed Burger ($13) may seem commonplace, but served at a perfect medium rare with pickled onion, gruyere, house-cured bacon, on a house-made brioche bun makes something simple into something absolutely mind-blowing – arguably the best burger in the City. And, I hate to compliment the Flat Bread because it’s just so easy to cover it with bacon and make it taste delicious, but damn that flat bread is good.
Add in a full bar and one of the best cocktail menus in the City, and it’s easy to see why it’s been one of SF’s most popular restaurants for so many years. The only problem with being so popular is that, even though the restaurant is sizable, there is almost always a wait. No matter what the day, during the dinner peak hours expect to feel like a wolf, silently waiting along the bar, eyeing your prey and ready to attack as soon as someone gets up from their bar stool.
If nothing else, NOPA is the definition of consistent. Dishes are never overworked, flavors are always clean, and every item is beautifully cooked and seasoned. No matter what the season, or what modifications have been made to the daily-changing menu, at NOPA you can always expect solid food and solid cocktails.
560 Divisadero St
San Francisco, California 94117