Commonly referred to as NOPA (North of the Panhandle), this neighborhood is rapidly becoming one of the most popular neighborhoods in all of San Francisco. Located in almost the geographic center of San Francisco, it certainly feels like you're in the center of everything. Muni lines allow you to get around very easily and many popular streets such as Fell and Oak Streets are not very far away. There are many community events such as the bi-monthly Divisadero Art Walk or the weekly Divisadero Farmer's Market. The Divisadero, located along the eastern edge of the neighborhood, is the main retail destination full of shopping and entertainment opportunities. Many Victorian and Edwardian style single family homes make up this neighborhood. In addition to these homes, large multi-unit apartment complexes and condos are available for purchase.
“NoPa”, is a quaint little district in the area known as the “Western Addition” of the city by the bay. It’s a lovely little part of town with world-acclaimed restaurants, some famous views from Alamo Park, and a fairly solid middle to upper middle class population. The area is particularly popular with well-to-do 30 something's getting ready to settle down and start their families.
If there is something that is hotly contested about the area, it’s the new name. There’s a bit of shuffle over whether or not NoPa is actually a thing. Part of this comes from the fact that it is a rather small neighborhood stuck between two existing neighborhoods, and there are cries of pretention from those who fail to understand why the name “Western Addition” or simply referring to it as “North of the Panhandle” isn’t sufficient.
Socially North Panhandle is a quiet, family oriented neighborhood comprised of wide comfortable streets, beautiful Victorian homes, with a number of historic hospitals and schools. Just like its overall architecture, North Panhandle demographics are changing as well. There is a pretty broad stroke of ethnicities, though the area is still predominantly Caucasian. It’d be fair to say that the population here is solidly middle class, with the vast majority renting homes rather than owning them.
Visually, it bears little resemblance to the rougher “Western Addition” neighborhood that so many non-residents would liken the area to. Its stolid old-world character is a direct result of the fight of the past residents of NoPa to keep it from undergoing a much called for urban renewal. That fight was successful, and with renovation rather than ground up renewal, it maintained its personality, saving a piece of San Francisco history.
The structures here also were spared from the 1906 fire, so it really is a preserved piece of the cities age old architecture and character. Some of its most recognizable features are the Mercy Terrace apartments, renovated from the beautiful four wing Southern Pacific Hospital into a parade of lovely apartment style homes, and a massively trendy street known as “Diviz” among the locals. This once dark little stretch of road now containing lovely “parklets” with lush planters and comfortable little benches all along the way.
The one thing, as mentioned before, that North Panhandle is becoming famous for is its food. For such a small neighborhood its streets are bountiful to overflowing with places to get foods from all over the world. Right in the center of Alamo square is a chic little restaurant that bears the name of the community in which it exists. North Panhandle is well-loved for its open two-story atmosphere, and its New American and Modern European fare.
If you prefer a little bit of something south of the border, there’s the Green Chile Kitchen over on McAllister Street that gives delicious, reasonably priced Mexican food and is subject to some very nice reviews. For something a little different, you might drop in at Jannah/Yaya Cuisine over on Fulton street, this Middle Eastern restaurant has delicious appetizers, a fantastic main course, and the best Baklava to be found anywhere in a San Francisco café.
Overall, North Panhandle is a growing and thriving community, with a wonderful character formed of old-world architecture combined with a burgeoning community full of hip little restaurants, a quiet but cozy nightlife, and a strong pride in its roots that’s kept this area authentic to its history. If you’re out exploring your options, or just exploring the city, you should drop in to friendly chic North Panhandle. You may just find yourself staying for a lifetime.