Both neighborhood standby and destination restaurant, Nopa does everything right: delicious, seasonal food that's not too precious or pricey, excellent cocktails, interesting wines, friendly waitstaff, late hours.
Seven years into its tenure, it remains one of the city's toughest tickets: book early, try brunch, or go later in the evening for the awesome burger.
A great restaurant is a cultural incubator. The establishment is the seed, and what grows up around it helps define the neighborhood. It generally takes time, dedication, and owners who know the area intimately.
Nopa, which stands for North of the Panhandle, is in this category. Like Zuni, it's a place that not only defines the neighborhood, but also becomes a salon for its customers.