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Writer Laura Kiniry

NoPa: Must-See San Francisco Neighborhood

Posted by Laura Kiniry on March 16, 2017
Alamo Square overlooking the Painted Ladies in San Francisco, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Marinav/Shutterstock
Photo caption
NoPa's Alamo Square, which offers picture-perfect views of San Francisco's famous Painted Ladies, is scheduled to reopen in spring 2017.

For years, San Francisco's Divisadero Street, between Haight and McAllister, was a stretch of unremarkable storefronts frequented by neighborhood locals and few others. But after a series of false starts, this eastern tip of NoPa—short for north of the Panhandle—has hummed to life.

New restaurants and shops seem to open monthly, joining a slew of early game-changers and local institutions, to transform this thoroughfare into one of the city's hottest destinations—and there's ample bicycle parking to boot. Paired with the anticipated spring reopening of renovated Alamo Square, home to San Francisco’s famous and much photographed Painted Ladies, the thriving "Divisadero Corridor" should make your list of places to visit in San Francisco.

NoPa's Ol' Stalwarts

Cookin': This Divisadero Street institution nearly overflows with every piece of recycled cooking and culinary wares you can imagine. From vintage signs to retro cake stands, Cookin' is the place to deck out your kitchen. 

Gamescape: At this beloved game store, find board games, chess sets, Ravensburger puzzles, and a calendar of events that includes Monday board game nights and a Tuesday Pokémon league.

Bean Bag Cafe: This long-time neighborhood café provides a casual space that's just as comfortable for milking a cup of coffee as it is for enjoying a leisurely meal. Along with the usual café fare, including sandwiches, salads, and crepes, you can also order a beer. Pints run less than $4 during happy hour, which starts at 3 p.m. daily.

NoPa's Early Game Changers

Bar Crudo: Revered for its ambitious raw bar and a nightly happy hour that includes $1 oysters, this lively seafood eatery has become a one-of-a-kind San Francisco establishment. Note: closed Mondays.

NOPA: Consistently rated as one of San Francisco's best restaurants, NOPA dishes up organic wood-fired cuisine, such as the succulent country pork chop with a rotating selection of seasonal flavors and produce. An added perk? The kitchen stays up until midnight on weeknights and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Little Star Pizza: Here, choose from a selection of thin-crust and Chicago-style deep-dish pies, or build your own with toppings like spinach, bacon, and Gorgonzola cheese.

Rare Device: This boutique shop is ideal for buying unique artisan gifts, such as a credit card-size multi-tool or a silkscreen calendar. Doubling as an art gallery, it's the perfect spot to stop and window shop before or after lunch. 

Horsefeather's covered front patio on Divisadero Street in San Francisco, picture
Photo credit
Photo Courtesy of Horsefeather
Photo caption
Horsefeather's wood-paneled bar includes an atrium just off Divisadero Street.

NoPa's New Kids on the Block:

Horsefeather: At this chic bar, share a plate of Dungeness crab cakes while sipping on inventive cocktails like the Nightrain, made with espresso whiskey, bourbon, and even a touch of cacao. The wood-paneled space has ample room for mingling, while its front atrium is the perfect place for savoring weekend brunch.

Indian Paradox: Pair savory Indian street snacks known as chaats with an international selection of wines, and you'll see how this cozy bistro got its name.

Souvla: Souvla serves up Greek food inspired by the country's casual souvlaki eateries. Place your order at the counter, then grab a seat in the modern space—or on the heated backyard patio—and wait for your number to be called. The menu includes rotisserie meats, like pork shoulder and lamb leg, pita-wrapped and doused in delicious sauces, along with a selection of Greek wines.

Powder: Put together shaved ice and ice cream and you have Powder, the place in town to come for Taiwanese-style shaved snow. The seasonally changing menu includes fun flavors like Vietnamese coffee and horchata with toppings ranging from coconut flakes to locally produced TCHO chocolate.

Heart of Gold: Browse among vintage Ralph Lauren button-ups, Benetton sweaters, and designer jackets for both men and women at Heart of Gold. Its interior has the feel of a high-end smoking lounge.

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