Last night’s dinner was at the very hip NOPA at the corner of Hayes and Divisadero. Formerly a bank, the interior has been completely re-styled with modern surfaces, high, exposed truss ceilings, stunning windows and an exhibition kitchen with a rotisserie and a wood-fired oven front and center. The vault remains, though. It is now their wine cellar.
There were six of us, so we were able to sample a good portion of the menu. We started with salmon carpaccio, wood-baked runner beans and the very tasty little fried fish (above). All are recommended.
For entrees we ordered the London broil (great mashed potatoes), the rotisserie chicken (they brine it first and it is amazingly juicy), the Mediterranean fish stew (wonderful flavors), and a pan-seared halibut that had superb texture and was accompanied by the most delicious corn and tomatoes. As good as each of those was, the star was the large double-cut pork chop. It was cooked perfectly and it was plated with incredible grilled peaches.
Service at NOPA is efficient, prices are quite reasonable (entrees are in the high teens) and the wine list has unusual offerings at very low markups. We selected the López de Heredia 1998 Tondonia Rioja Riserva: $55 at NOPA, $39 at K&L. It was gentle and medium bodied with no rough edges, exemplifying the traditional style of Rioja Alta produced with organic techniques and bottled unfiltered.
NOPA has received strong reviews from Michael Bauer and yelp readers, and after last night’s dinner my companions and I concur. NOPA is casual, fun and tasty. One important tip for your visit: NOPA does not take advance reservations, but you can call for a table same-day starting at 2pm. Call at 2pm and keep dialing until you get through.
NOPA: 560 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA (415) 864-8643