Nopa Restaurant Review - June 24, 2006 BunRabs Home Yummy Chow Home

560 Divisadero St.
San Francisco, CA

Just say Nopa

What kind of panhandling naysayer doesn’t like to break into a converted bank? Not me. When I head out of SOMA, I go to NOPA.

NoPa refers to the location north of the panhandle. As locations go, it’s difficult for parking, but well worth finding a space when you handle what comes out of their pans. “NoPa” is really short for “No Parking”

Service: friendly and accommodating. Everyone is on the ball and makes you feel at home. The runners have a clear understanding of the food and drink and are very helpful in guiding you though your meal.

Atmosphere: You would be equally at home in business casual or jeans. There is some excellent people watching in this bustling restaurant. Crowds gather at the communal table and wade four deep at the bar. It gets to shouting level at times depending on where you sit (or stand.) Speaking of sitting, there are cushioned bar seats as well as booths, but the basic chair used in this restaurant is butt numbingly hard. This isn’t a problem if you dash in for a quick bite, but if you have a full on meal, it becomes fundamentally apparent after a couple hours.

There are many fun touches like the murals, the teatowels that are used as napkins (as well as après ribs hot towels) and the clothespin to deliver the check.


Organic radish, sweet butter and Maldon salt amused our bouches with a crunchy, creamy salty bite to root out our appetites.
Little fish ($8.00) got a little squirt of lemon before taking a plunge into a romanesco sauce. These are crispy seal snacks, with moist interiors. The acid of the lemon cut through the oil which also flavored the shaved fennel base. This vegi-strip salad did double duty both providing a anise-offset as well as taking care of any oil runoff.
Lamb ribletes ($8.00) were cooked til they were falling off the bone. The meaty richness and harissa sauce was cut with some fresh chopped mint and cilantro. Although good, I envisioned a leaner, rarer preparation (which is certainly not the fault of the restaurant's.)
Flatbread ($9.00) was topped with broccolini, onion, sausage and aromatic fennel seeds. I liked this simple, cheese and tomato-less, crispy edged, chewy bellied, carbo-sheet. It is particularly welcome with the no bread basket status of this eatery. Maybe "NoPa" is short for "No Pain"?
Little gem salad ($7.00) had a rich and tangy, creamy, tarragon infiltrated dressing with shaved cheese, and browned breadcrumbs which added a nice grapenut factor to the mix.
Rotisserie Chicken ($17.00) was stuffed with herb butter under the skin before its hot pole dance. I had to order this due to the chicken gyration station in full view of the dining room. It was served alongside an astringent, peppery and refreshing salad of rocket, mustard greens and watercress. This tip worthy, bronzed bird was moist and flavorful.

Rhubarb crostata ($7.00) had a nice tangy red stalk flavor. I just wish that the crust wasn’t tough. I resorted to tearing it apart manually due to it’s immunity to flatware assault.

It came with whipped cream with some chopped candied ginger (they didn’t have their ginger ice cream tonight) which complemented this rustic tart (but maybe the pastry was too rustic…)

Blue Bottle Coffee was served in a French press. This light, fruity roast was just the thing to send us on our way.


Three carrots out of four

Nopa must really stand for "Non pareil" or "without equal." Yummy chow, fun scene and open late - works for me.



Nopa Bathroom Rating

Bathrooms: 2 of each gender with a shared trough style sink. Very European (for when you're-a-peein'.) And when you visit these bathrooms, be careful that you don't pick up a case of botrytis.

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