San Francisco is a place that I have never taken for granted. It was my first exposure to a major metropolitan city. And this visit wasn’t until a shamefully ripe age of twenty. But even at twenty, the city’s coarse metropolitan grit in and around Market - with its high-rised windy corridors - and the incandescent chatter and charm of Chestnut street’s open-faced wine bars, was a romance not to be lost on me.
Now older and better travelled, my visits to San Francisco still leave me feeling like I’m twenty all over again. And it’s restaurants like Nopa that continue to capture these sentiments.
Self-billed as urban rustic, Nopa epitomizes San Francisco in that both its culinary offerings and its decor reflect a modern aesthetic that embraces the city’s history and its unchanged Victorian facade.
It’s like the Anthropologie of restaurants: sparse, wooden, lofty and yet comfortable enough to want to be in.
The flatbread appetizer, is brick oven baked offering of spicy fennel sausage, escarole and cresenza that is rich and textured comfort food(14.).
The plate of little fried fish with aioli and pimenton (11.) is not only fun to eat, but surprisingly light as well.
While I wasn’t sure that warm goat cheese by itself would be a good idea, it turned out to be a good but almost overly rich plate. It is served with cherries, plums, frisee and crostini (11.).
Nopa’s grilled country pork chops and potatoes (25.) has good reason for its popularity: it was the juiciest chop we’ve ever met.
The takeaway: Yes, Nopa can be pricey. But given its flair for providing rich, updated comfort food in a like-minded setting, like San Francisco itself, it is not to be taken for granted.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re open until one a.m.
560 Divisadero St.
San Francisco, CA