Awesome last name recipient and New York Times contributor Nicole Spiridakis covered NOPA (AKA, "North of the Panhandle" -- of course) in this past weekend's travel section of the NYT, "Colonizing an Urban Frontier".

Spiridakis tells us that "an influx of attention-getting restaurants and boutiques in the last decade has made it one of the city's cooler destinations, even as it struggles to maintain its gritty individuality." Though we must disagree with the claim that it's "one of the city's cooler destinations" -- that title would go to Rincon Hill and its resevoir-tip highrises, hands down -- she's got a decent list of some of the area's hip-ish eating places and venues. (Even some love for the bullet magnet, Lilly's BBQ!)

Since neither BART nor MUNI trains go there, we never travel to said NYT-worthy destination. Unless it's to escape the sun, that is. But we hear that the neighborhood is just darling. Yet gritty. But mainly darling.

Also, are there any other neighborhoods out there rebranding themselves via adorable acronyming? Weren't SoMiss-Po and BBB (Bail Bond Boulevard) supposed to take off? But didn't?

Smurfy image: Jorge Colombo