One of the best things about being able to return San Francisco again and again (even if it's just for a weekend getaway) is that we can make our way through our bucket list of top restaurants in the city. We made advance dinner reservations for Nopa last year but decided to cancel it from having had too much decadent food from the prior days at Saison and Kappa. Yes, such feelings do exist-- there is such a thing as having enough of good food.
Several weeks leading to our recent trip to San Francisco, we were at Bavette's in Chicago having dinner and in conversation with the restaurant manager who is very well aware of T and my food preferences, she recommended us Nopa and State Bird Provisions. She then added, Make advance reservations. Nopa then made it back to the top of our list to try. We were already too late for dinner reservations at Nopa as there weren't any availability left. No luck for State Bird Provisions either. Nopa opens for brunch and we settled for a late brunch reservation there.
The high wooden ceiling at Nopa makes the space look airy. Large window panels surround the walls allowing plenty of sunlight into the room. For those without reservations, it might be possible to get seated at the wooden communal table on a first-come-first-serve basis.
If you're a fan of Scotch like T, get the Supernova cocktail that is made with Ardberg that comes with a little peatiness in flavor. Cava is added to the drink which makes it bubbly. The cocktail is smooth and not overly strong which makes it a perfect drink for brunch.
The butter basted farm egg dish is so much more than its name suggests. The rosemary braised romano beans are tender yet maintaining its shape and texture, likening to in between flattened green beans and shishito peppers. Biting into the silky and smooth roasted corn chickpea fritter, it feels like I am eating deep fried tofu squares.
In true T fashion who likes his burger without a bun (his reason is that so he has space to finish the fries), he went with his usual route with the grass fed hamburger. He let me try just a bite of his burger and my, it was packed with flavor. The usual suspects of a burger accompaniment include a whole slice of raw onion or relish in a form of chopped pickled vegetables. Nopa finds a way to bridge the two common options by pickling the whole onion slices in tact. Dipping the fries into the red pepper feta dip makes a great excuse to finish the fries.
The custard french toast, most popular item on the brunch menu, comes with an option of a full or half order. The half order comes with a slice of french toast but don't let that fool you. A slice will fill you up. You will have enough food, our server says to us after we place our orders. The toast is thoroughly penetrated with custard yet without a hint of sogginess. We cut into the toast and take a bite through the charred crispy edges and sink our teeth into the moist french toast inside. With the perfect level of mild sweetness, you don't need a strong dose of maple syrup if you choose to be religiously careful about your sugar intake. And yet if you choose to indulge in more maple syrup, the texture of the custard french toast is light enough with extra room for sopping up the maple syrup. The poached Arkansas black apples and maple butter help the custard french toast compete for decadence.
We will return for their dinner menu, oh yes, but not without an advance reservation. And then it will be good times and good food.
If heading to Nopa from downtown, the easiest way via public transportation is to take the MUNI #20 which is about a 20-min ride.
560 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
2012 Michelin Bib Gourmand
2011 Michelin Bib Gourmand
2010 Michelin Bib Gourmand
2008 7X7 Magazine Eat + Drink Award: Best Late Night
2007 7X7 Magazine Eat + Drink Award: Best Newcomer
2006 San Francisco Chronicle Top 10 Restaurants