|The New, Trendy Bi-Rite|
There was SOHO in Manhattan, WEHO in L.A. and SOMA in San Francisco. Now there is NOPA — also a San Francisco neighborhood. NOPA stands for North Panhandle. For the uninitiated, the panhandle is a pleasant, green, well-traveled thin strip of park that eventually leads to the much larger Golden Gate. The main street for the gentrifying neighborhood is Divisadero, once the dividing line between San Francisco proper, to the east, and the Outerlands, once barren sand dunes that extended west to the ocean.
NOPA is the new “cool” if “cool” is still cool. The restaurant called NOPA is one of the trendiest brunch and dinner places in town. Other restaurants and bars have followed and are in the works, including a high-class “mezcalaria.” Bicyclists have settled in. A low-key, live music nightclub — Justice League — dominates the night. Though in all fairness, the club was there before all the hoopla. During the day, the first adapters are trying out a coffee shop famous for rye bread and the chic Bi-Rite market, which has set up its second store here selling its pricey products, among them its obsessively sought, eccentrically-flavored ice cream. Pleasantly odd shops are also popping up on the quickly evolving block.
|What lurks behind the barricade?|
The city prepared for the rebirth with a lamp-lit street island planted with trees and flowers as well as sidewalk cut-outs with tables and chairs for that sidewalk café ambiance.
Predictably, neighborhood homes are being renovated and rents are going up. It’s also quite likely that some of the older businesses will not be able to adapt to the new pedestrian street traffic consumer profiles. This seems to be a childless, younger crowd. The baby stroller operators are elsewhere — The Marina, Noe Valley, Fillmore and Union.
NOTE: When I moved back to San Francisco 16 years ago, I moved to this once more rugged neighborhood, then called “The Western Addition.” This is where my San Francisco my fictional P.I., Noah Lang, partner of Carly Paladin in the San Francisco mysteries, lives — though he has more creative digs as well as a more exciting life.