Around town with Allison: North of the Panhandle (NoPa!)

Allison Fong/Staff
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So far in this series, we’ve covered the Mission District and Haight-Ashbury. Today I’ll be showing you around North of the Panhandle, or NoPa. You might be wondering what panhandle I’m talking about. And no, I’m not crazy, there’s actually a panhandle. If you take a look at a map of San Francisco, you’ll notice the Panhandle, which is a park that extends from Golden Gate Park. This park is narrow and about eight blocks long, so it looks like a panhandle when you see it on a map. Now that you’ve had a little geography lesson, it’s time to take a closer look at what this neighborhood has to offer!

Coffee, tea and treats

The Mill

The epitome of a trendy and minimalist coffee shop, The Mill is a favorite spot among many. This joint serves up delicious Four Barrel Coffee as well as its well-known toast. With a weekly and seasonal menu of toast, The Mill makes sure you’ll never be bored of these yummy combinations on its homemade bread. This is also one of my favorite spots to grab a loaf of bread or pastries if I’m on the go! For all of you lactose-intolerant folk, The Mill has an amazing in-house cashew and almond milk mix! The next time you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to grab yourself a cup of coffee and a piece of toast (or two) and enjoy them in this beautiful coffee shop!

Boba Guys

The anteater drinking boba on the white wall is an iconic symbol of this joint. Sometimes I need to do a reality check and realize that not everyone is as obsessed with coffee as I am. If you’re more of a tea kind of person, then Boba Guys is the place for you. Serving artisanal bubble tea drinks, Boba Guys is one of the most popular spots to get boba in San Francisco. What sets Boba Guys apart from its competitors is definitely its use of real ingredients — none of that weird stuff. Boba Guys also has great snacks if you’re having some mid-afternoon munchies. Try a mochi muffin, my personal favorite, for an insanely satisfying bite. First time here and don’t know what to get? A classic jasmine milk tea or strawberry matcha latte are solid options. And before you go, don’t forget to take a pic with the boba tiled floor or the anteater on the wall! #instaworthy

Bi-Rite Market

As you make your way down Divisadero, you’ll spot a familiar name — Bi-Rite Market. Also located in the Mission District, Bi-Rite has also blessed us all with a second location in NoPa. This is the perfect spot to pick up some snacks before you head to Alamo Square.


Down Divisadero Street you can find a bunch of little shops here and there. Rare Device is my go-to shop for all things cute and handmade. I’ll always find something new when I walk through those doors, whether it be candles, cards, jewelry or gifts. Located up the street from Rare Device is The Perish Trust, another one of my favorite small shops, which offers vintage and local goods. Scattered throughout this entire neighborhood you’ll find little gems such as Heart of Gold, a vintage shop, and Tanner Goods, a small shop focused on leather goods and men’s clothing. 

Enjoy the view

Home to the “painted ladies,” a series of picturesque Victorian houses, Alamo Square is a popular spot for locals, tourists and everyone in between. Come to enjoy the houses from “Full House,” the beautiful view of the city or the plethora of doggos prancing in the grass. On a sunny day, you can find dog walkers meeting up (let’s just say that that there are a lot of doggos off leash), people picnicking and just enjoying the beautiful sunshine.


If Greek food is your thing, then Souvla is definitely the place to be. Serving killer salads and sandwiches (and let’s not forget about frozen Greek yogurt), Souvla is the perfect spot for a quick lunch. If pizza is more of your thing, whether it may be deep dish or thin crust, then you have to head over to Little Star Pizza. Although I am a strong supporter of thin crust pizza, Little Star Pizza does hold a special place in my heart — or should I say stomach. There aren’t many places in the city that serve deep dish pizza, but this joint will definitely satisfy your cravings. This is the perfect spot to bring friends who are strong supporters of either thin crust or deep dish pizza because everyone wins! There are so many solid food joints in NoPa — you really can’t go wrong with anything! If you’re looking for an extra fancy place to impress your date or to treat yourself, then try Ijji Sushi. This 17-seat sushi restaurant serves a delicious 19-course omakase meal — a preset menu of nigiri chosen by the sushi chef. With a hefty price tag of $145 per person, you know that this place is good. Another notable mention would be Horsefeather, a restaurant and bar that serves up yummy bites along with cocktails. Kimchi mac and cheese, anyone?

So what are you waiting for? Head over to NoPa for delectable bites, great coffee and cute shops. Not to mention all the #instaworthy pics! Just a quick BART and bus ride away, a new adventure awaits you!