The New York Times

a neighborhood is on the rise and a restaurant is leading the way

The NOPA district of San Francisco - the name stands for "north of the Panhandle," that sliver of green jutting east from Golden Gate Park - was once known mostly for low-income housing and random shootings. But an influx of attention-getting restaurants and boutiques in the last decade have made it one of the city's cooler destinations, even as it struggles to maintain its gritty individuality. NOPA has emerged as a kind of cultural bridge between hippie Haight Street and the rest of the city. Wanderers can satisfy a sweet tooth at a truffle shop, dine on "cruelty-free" dishes at a vegan restaurant, pick up a hammer at family-run SF Hardware, or get a bike tune-up with coffee at the Mojo Bicycle Cafe.

But what really put the neighborhood - and its name - on the map is the restaurant NOPA. The restaurant, which opened last year, has created quite a stir, not only for its organic kitchen (a grass-fed beef hamburger is $12), but for making a point of serving filtered tap water as a greener alternative to bottled. The large space is housed in a former bank and has concrete floors, a communal table and an open kitchen that stays open until 1 a.m., a welcome anomaly in a city that goes to bed early.

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