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In the mid-2000s North of the Panhandle became the city's newest talked-about neighborhood in part because of the big, bustling Nopa, which was cleverly named after it. This casual space, with its high ceilings, concrete floor, long bar, and sea of tables, suits the high-energy crowd of young professionals mixed with stylish neighborhood residents that fill it every night (and since the kitchen doesn't close until 1 am, plenty of restaurant industry types come in and pack the bar late into the night). Diners come primarily for the rustic fare, like an always winning flat bread topped with fennel sausage and caramelized onions; the vegetable tagine with lemon yogurt; smoky, crisp-skinned rotisserie chicken; a juicy grass-fed hamburger with thick-cut fries; one of the city's best pork chops; and for dessert, the donutlike sopapillas. But they also love the lively spirit of the place. Unfortunately, that buzz sometimes means that raised voices are the only way to communicate with fellow diners. A big communal table and the friendly bar ease the way for anyone dining out on his or her own. Wine lovers are happily satisfied here with the excellent list, and weekend brunch is one of the city's best (and most popular—arrive a few minutes before they open at 11 am to score a table).
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