NoPa at the Center

This move is quite bittersweet. I’ve made great memories in the short amount of time I’ve lived in this neighborhood, but I am also incredibly excited for the future. And so, here is my tribute to NoPa, the awesome neighborhood that I was blessed to call home, at least for a short while.

NoPa, short for North of Panhandle, is in the middle of the city and close to pretty much everything. For the most part, everything is walk-able from this neighborhood. That is until you account for the hills. That said, here are my favorite hill-free, low-incline spots in or near NoPa.

Arsicault Bakery

This is a wonderful neighborhood bakery that serves amazing flaky and buttery croissants. I love their chocolate croissant (different from their chocolate almond croissant, which is also very good but too rich for my tummy), which has a delicate balance of being light enough to satisfy your appetite and rich enough to leave you wanting more. (I always forget to take pictures of the croissants before I eat, in case that explains the pictures…)

I feel like it has quieted down since Arsicault’s Bon Appétit feature (or maybe I’d always gone during non-peak croissant hours), as I’ve never had a problem of waiting in a long, long line. (Once, I’d decided to come right when the bakery opened, and there was a line, but the line moved quickly!) Most customers take their pastries to-go, so there’s usually space for anyone who wants to stay for a bit. I’ve always had the delight of staying in long enough to finish my coffee and my croissant and to get in a good amount of reading whatever book I’d taken with me.

Boba Guys

Boba is so popular in the Bay Area that there are boba shops everywhere. Ever since I’ve started not adding toppings to my drink, I’ve come to appreciate the high quality flavors that Boba Guys has to offer. Well, also, it helps that there are two Boba Guys locations nearby: Divisadero and Fillmore. The Fillmore location has more seating and houses Sunday Bird, which I love, love, love, whereas the Divisadero location is right in NoPa and doesn’t get too crowded.

My favorites are Muscat Oolong and Strawberry Cali-Pico.

The Mill

Aside from serving amazing (Four Barrel) coffee, The Mill also bakes and sells Josey Baker Bread. I loved coming in for the bread. (I used to buy a loaf a week!) The shop does get crowded and the purchases do add up, so I’d preferred to take my loaf of bread to go.

The Mill also serves pizza in the evenings, so it’s a fun casual place to meet up with friends after work. So yes, it’s open later than the usual San Francisco coffee shop!

Alamo Square

This is a nice little park with a nice view of downtown and of the Painted Ladies. The park offers a wholesome place to spend sunny days out on the grass. It’s also dog-friendly, so a lot of people come by to walk and play with their dogs. Alamo Square is where I go to when I need a moment and want a nice view.

Panhandle + Golden Gate Park

The neighborhood’s proximity to the park was a major driver in my decision to move to NoPa. I like to run, and the combination of the Panhandle and Golden Gate Park allow for a relatively flat route for long distance running. It also provides a great view, especially if you make it all the way to Ocean Beach! If that’s too long, well, there are also the museums, the Rose Garden, and other sights in the park.

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