The Best Restaurants In NoPa – San Francisco – The Infatuation

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 20 best spots to eat.

THE SPOTS

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.

The New York-style bagels coming out of Schlok’s first brick-and-mortar in NoPa 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.

At Lucinda’s Deli & More, the sandwich ratio of bread to filling is absurdly high, in the best way. The bread is hollowed out to leave more space for the colorful, fresh filling, like the mortadella with tapenade, or a BLTA piled with enough arugula to qualify as a side salad. Grab a spicy tuna melt on your way to Alamo Square.

Like Meryl Streep’s range of facial expressions, Automat is extremely versatile. Need to grab a box of pastries or a fresh baguette before a picnic? Check. How about a place to work on your computer for a few hours? It gets the job done. A spot for a casual dinner catch-up with friends? You know the answer. And while you can come here for nearly any occasion, we prefer to get cozy in one of the cushy yellow booths, sip on a cappuccino from an adorable glass cup, and cut into a fluffy horchata donut. But everything that comes out of the bakery/restaurant’s kitchen is incredible, from the fresh loaves of bread and miso blondies to the hot fried chicken sandwich loaded with tangy pickled onions and seaweed aioli we now have a standing lunch date with.

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 where you won’t feel like your date can hear all the nervous thoughts in your head. There’s also a great Happy Hour from Monday-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.

Toast and coffee are the name of the game at The Mill. Whether it’s country bread with avocado or dense brown bread with seasonal jam, their toasts are all phenomenal—and one order is all you really need to be full until lunch. If you’re not, grab a few baked goods or some black pepper parmesan buns to-go.

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.

Bi-Rite is mostly a grocery store, but we eat here just as often as any of the other restaurants in the area. Their cured meats, cheeses, breads, and sandwiches (with things like prosciutto, arugula, and mozzarella) are great to eat in Alamo Square Park while watching people take photos of themselves in front of the Full House houses. If you end up doing a sit-down dinner somewhere else, skip on their dessert to get a pint of ice cream here.

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.

Going to Ju-Ni involves some heavy consideration as this small Japanese spot only serves one 14-course, $195 omakase. If you’re prepared to spend that much and have a good reason to do it—like an anniversary or winning big from scratchers—it’s worth it. This place makes some of the best sushi in the city.

Like Ju-Ni, a dinner at Hina Yakitori isn’t something you casually drop in for. The omakase-style restaurant on Divisadero is small (there are only 13 seats) and serves 18-20 courses of mostly charcoal-grilled chicken skewers, like wings brushed with tare and topped with wasabi or tsukune with a cured egg yolk. It’s $165 per person and reservations are required, so save this meal for a special occasion.

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.

What makes the city’s only German pastry shop special is the attention to detail chef and owner Ha Do puts into her beautiful cakes, pies, and other sweets. Case in point: the Berliner. These seasonal jam and custard-filled donuts are fluffy and light thanks to the sunflower seed oil they’re fried in, and topped with a super fine powdered sugar that gets all over the place (in the most delightfully messy way) with every bite.

Sunset Squares specializes in pizzas with an excellent sourdough crust—and their new slice shop on Divisadero is a great spot to get your hands on some. They churn out thick square pies topped with everything from pepperoni to mushrooms or clams, along with great thin-crust pizzas. Everything is also available by the slice here, and they also have other shareable dishes, like wings or loaded fries.

The large portions and dishes under $15 at Zaytoon make this Mediterranean spot a good stop for a casual weeknight dinner. We like the mezze sampler, which comes with falafel, pita, and a bunch of dips. It’s good to split with someone else, but if you’re really hungry, grab one of their shawarma wraps, which are larger than most burritos in the city.

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 semi-permanent pop-up location on Divisadero. Grab a seat inside or on their parklet 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.