Self-Guided Nopa Walking Food Tour

February 12, 2016

Ten years ago, Nopa, a restaurant that serves simple food with the best locally sourced ingredients, opened up shop on the corner of Divisadero and Hayes Street. Nopa stands for North of the Panhandle and refers to the region in San Francisco that is directly north of the grassy strip of Golden Gate Park that is known as the panhandle — if you look at a map of the city, this will all become very clear! With the arrival of Nopa, the neighborhood experienced a shift: it suddenly had a new name and was a culinary destination. Since 2006, Divisadero Street has become one of the hottest spots for dining in the city. Wondering how to spend a full day eating and drinking your way down Divis? Here’s the ultimate Nopa walking food tour. I hope you’re hungry!

This self guided Nopa Walking food tour is best enjoyed in the late afternoon or evening (ideally starting at 3pm or 4pm) and will take about 4 hours. You can also enjoy this tour on weekends in the morning or lunchtime.

On this walking food tour, you’ll visit:

  1. The Mill
  2. 4505 Burgers and BBQ
  3. Bar Crudo
  4. Maven
  5. The Little Chihuahua
  6. Nopa
  7. Bi Rite Creamery

toast at The Mill bakery in Nopa in San Francisco

1) The Mill

Want to start the tour off right? The best place to do that is at the Mill on Divisadero near Fulton. Fancy toast is now a thing thanks to revolutionary bakeries like The Mill, where inch-thick slices of housemade bread are slathered with the creamy artisanal butter making it the best and maybe the most expensive toast (slices are $4 each) you’ve ever tasted. From baker Josey Baker (yes, that’s his real last name!), The Mill is a minimalist space that serves up two things: the aforementioned mind-blowing toast and Four Barrel Coffee. There’s also a small selection of pastries, but the Mill’s, forgive the pun, bread and butter is the actual bread and butter. Dark mountain rye with cream cheese, salt, and fresh ground pepper is a personal favorite, but really it’s all wildly delicious, from the whole wheat sesame poppy with butter apple butter to the country bread with butter and parmesan cheese. The Mill also sells bread by the loaf, so if you’re planning on doing any cooking in the near future, purchase a loaf of fresh-baked black pepper parmesan and use it to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Address: 736 Divisadero Street (at Fulton); Phone: (415) 345-1953, Open until 7pm.

Spend some time wondering through the storefronts along Divisadero. Shop for culinary antiques at Cookin, pretty gifts and stationary at Rare Device, and surf gear at San Franpsycho. There’s also a superb barber, J.P. Kempt, an awesome fitness studio Salt, that specializes in a fusion of barre and high-intensity cardio, and a stylish little salon, Q Spa, that offers nail care, waxing, and skincare services.

barbecue food at 4505 Burgers and Barbecue in Nopa

2) 4505 Burgers and Barbecue

In the mood for barbecue? Super star butcher Ryan Farr serves up slow-smoked brisket and finger-licking good ribs at his meat-centric eatery. Address: 705 Divisadero Street (at Fulton); Phone: (415) 231-6993.

food tour at Bar Crudo in Nopa

3) Bar Crudo

Then head to Bar Crudo, a seafood spot with a stellar happy hour deal. Every day from 5 to 6:30 pm, Bar Crudo offers discounts on their uber fresh seafood selection. Who doesn’t love $1 oysters? There’s also $1 herb and jalapeño marinated mussels, pan seared shishito peppers with boquerones, manila clams in white wine broth, rock cod tacos, and the best seafood chowder you’ll ever taste. All of these ocean delights are served up in a sleek cool atmosphere that’s a bit moody, but inviting. It’s best to show up as close to 5 pm as possible, as this happy hour always fills up with the locals looking to score a scrumptious steal on shellfish. Address: 655 Divisadero Street (at Grove); Phone: (415) 409-0679.

The Full House Houses in Nopa

Then, spend some time soaking up the SF sun or watching the sunset on the lawns of Alamo Square Park. Snap some photos of the Painted Ladies. Also known as the The Full House Houses, this row of classic Victorians was featured in the iconic show of the 90s.

cocktails at Maven in Nopa

4) Maven

A walking tour in any SF neighborhood wouldn’t be complete without a stop at one of the city’s top cocktail bars. Maven, is a few blocks off of Divisadero Street on Haight, but the hand-crafted perfectly-executed cocktails are worth the short walk. It’s difficult to have a favorite beverage at this bar and restaurant that’s decorated with a living wall of succulents and cheeky Disney art. Why? Because the drink menu changes so often. Try The Second Line, a concoction of armagnac, apple, anise, and burnt sugar. Or perhaps a Corpse Reviver #598? With gin, cocchi, ginger, lemon, and coriander it’s sure to pack a potent punch. Cheers! Address: 598 Haight Street (at Steiner); Phone: (415) 829-7982. Open weekdays at 5:30pm or weekends from 11:00am-11:30pm.

mexican food dishes at The Little Chihuahua in Nopa

5) The Little Chihuahua

Hit up The Little Chihuahua, a Mexican restaurant beloved to locals. It’s an unfussy and small space with a counter and a couple of wooden table and chairs. The food is authentic and super fresh Mexican. Think tacos on organic corn tortillas with grass fed carne asada, chile verde tofu, or sustainable salmon as some of the filling options. The garlic shrimp burrito with avocado, rice, black beans, smoky chile salsa, and pico de gallo is one of the most scrumptious burritos around. Their signature toastada salad with mixed greens, black beans, avocado, queso fresco, cucumbers, roasted red bell peppers, and mango salsa piled high on a crispy tortilla shell and dressed with a lime-cilantro sauce is a masterpiece of a salad. The Little Chu, as natives refer to it, also has a stellar tortilla soup, finger-licking good nachos, and quesadillas with oozing melted cheese. Address: 292 Divisadero Street (at Page); Phone: (415) 255-8225.

Nopa Restaurant in Nopa in San Francisco

6) Nopa

For late dinner, head to the restaurant that started it all, Nopa. With an open kitchen, bar that runs the entire length of the restaurant, two levels of dining tables, and a massive communal table, it is one happening spot. A graphic mural by local artist Brian Barneclo catches your eye. The crowd is an eclectic mixture of old and young, tourist and natives, everyone talking loudly while enjoying rye cocktail or glass of Greek rosé. The food, from the wood-fired oven and small open kitchen, is consistent California cuisine at its finest. The pork chop is one of the best in the city, but the pappardelle with nine-hour bolognese is equally as delicious. There’s also a much-talked about burger, rotisserie-style chicken, and Moroccan vegetable tagine.  Address: 560 Divisadero Street (at Hayes); Phone: (415) 864-8643. Open until 1am.

ice cream at Bi-Rite Market and Creamery in Nopa

7) Bi-Rite Market & Creamery

For dessert, pop into Bi-Rite Market. One of San Francisco’s most well known independent grocers, Bi-Rite has two locations, the Mission District standby and the newer store, which opened on Divisadero in 2013. At Bi-Rite Divis, there’s a counter that serves up scoops of Bi-Rite Creamery’s world-famous ice cream. Bi-Rite practically invented the now ubiquitous combinations of strawberry and balsamic and caramel and salt as ice cream flavors. Grab a cone with a few balls of creamy, melt-in-your mouth ice cream or an ice cream sandwich of brown butter cookies with Blue Bottle coffee almond chocolate chip ice cream. Before you head out, browse the shelves of the market. It’s stocked with a carefully curated selection of local purveyors. Grab a bottle of screwcap wine and a few plastic glasses. It’s time for some relaxing. Address: 550 Divisadero Street (at Hayes); Phone: (415) 551-7900. Open until 9pm.

If you’re still hungry for more that Divisadero Street and the Nopa neighborhood have to offer, check out the following spots.

*La Urbana You’ll feel transported to Mexico City when you dine at this mezcaleria. Address: 661 Divisadero Street (at Grove); Phone: (415) 440-4500.

*Regazza An awesome date spot, this pizzeria offers thin crust pizza in a romantic and intimate setting. Address: 311 Divisadero Street (in between Oak and Page); Phone: (415) 255-1133. 

*Vinyl Coffee & Wine Bar Coffee and wine are on the agenda at this relaxed casual all-day cafe from award-winning sommelier Mark Bright. Address: 359 Divisadero Street (at Oak); Phone: (415) 621-4132.

Enjoy our self-guided Nopa Walking Food Tour? Join one of our Saturday afternoon North Beach food tours. Come Eat with Us!