Thank god for nopa. If not for this "San Francisco gathering place" in the Western Addition, the neighborhood would probably have remained a (culinary) wasteland. From the get-go, nopa breathed life into the Divisadero corridor, and it continues to anchor the on-the-rise and yet still somewhat gritty strip boasting all manner of really great restos, cafes and bars.
Above: fried, uber-moist sardines flavored with pimentón (Spanish paprika) and a preserved meyer lemon aioli.
Below: creamy, baked goat cheese, pickled beets and frisée, plus a pile of crostini.
Wow. When we ordered the "warm butter bean salad," we had no idea it was going to come out as the most comforting of comfort dishes. This baked tomato sauce-based casserole—"it tastes like pizza," said an awe-struck PH; "the best kind," I replied—came stuffed with wild nettles, a poached egg and kumquats, with oozing cheese, pesto and savory breadcrumbs loaded on top.
We finished off with a Moroccan vegetable tagine that had been cooked to perfection. PH didn't realize it was a vegetarian dish, the flavors were so rich and full. Castelvetrano olives, toasted almonds and plenty of tangy lemon yogurt made this dish that much better—in color, texture and most important, flavor. Mmmmmmmm.