People in San Francisco like waiting in line for food (a lot). Sometimes, that wait is worth it. While You Wait, SFist's guide for how to pass the time while trying to get into San Francisco's most ridiculously popular restaurants, is here to help.
Minimum wait time at Nopalito for party of four, Wednesday, 8:00 PM: one hour and fifteen minutes
Much as we love a gut-bomb of a burrito, we feel it’s important for the well-developed San Franciscan to hone their palate to the intricacies of more refined Mexican cuisine. Actually, we mostly just love Mexican food so goddamn much that we want excuses to eat it even when a comparatively fancier atmosphere presents itself. (And, no, Cancun during daylight hours does not count.)
Whatever your motivation, Nopalito is absolutely a place that you want to go and eat your face off. The bright, airy space couched next to Falletti on Broderick* is crazy tasty for lunch, brunch, or dinner — from a bracingly fresh ceviche served with fresh-fried chips to fall-apart tender carnitas accompanied by fresh-pressed corn tortillas, Nopalito’s dishes are expertly prepared and powerfully flavorful. This should come as no surprise, seeing as how Nopalito is an offshoot from the always-packed Nopa — attention to high-quality ingredients and seasonality is a must, as is straight-up, pretension-free deliciousness.
As happens with charmingly small delicious restaurants so closely related to Nopa, Nopalito gets packed. And fast. Should you get in, please don’t miss the aforementioned ceviche and carnitas; really though, anything you order is going to be delicious.**
Another bonus? Nopalito has a decidedly civilized approach to their wait-list. You can call (!), get a time quote (!!), and put your name on it (!!!), all from the comfort of your phone. They’ll even call you when your table’s ready.
Still, you don’t want to find yourself wandering aimlessly around Falletti, desperately buying expensive cheeses in a fit of hunger blindness. Where to pass the time instead? Let's see:
Hour One: Mojo Bicycle Cafe
What’s not to love about a cafe that is a) also a bicycle shop, b) has a small but great selection of draft beer that you can get by the pitcher, c) hosts some of the city’s best pop-ups, and d) has a lovely outdoor seating area? That’s right, there is nothing not to love! Mojo is the perfect place to relax over a pint or pitcher, potentially outside if it’s a rare warm evening. Should the likes of Wes Burger or Rice Paper Scissors be serving up burgers or Vietnamese food, respectively, we’d recommend sticking with one order of one thing to share. Try not to spend your dinner dollars on expensive bike accessories, if possible.
Mojo Bicycle Cafe: 639 Divisadero (between Hayes and Grove), 415-440-2370
Hour Two: The Page
When the intoxicating smells coming from the Wes Burger meat skillet become too much to handle, scoot on down to The Page. This has got to be one of the best neighborhood bars in the city — it’s decorated like the living room of an eccentric, slightly alcoholic grandfather, has two pool tables, and an excellent list of rotating draft beers. Grab a table in the back and ignore the proximity of The Little Chihuahua because no, a burrito is not an appetizer, no matter how many ways you split it.
The Page: 298 Divisadero (at Page), 415-255-6101
Hour Three: Club Waziema
Photo Credit: Lauren Sloss
It’s places like Waziema that make me fall in love with San Francisco all over again. One of my favorite bars in the city, it also happens to be an Ethiopian restaurant, that also happens to have crazy bordello-like wallpaper, a crazy-huge back room, and a kind attitude toward impromptu dance parties. Their food is decently tasty, too; but if you strategically arrive on the later end, you won’t be able to indulge in your sudden yearning for injera, anyway.
Club Waziema: 543 Divisadero St, (bewteen Hayes and Fell), 415-346-6641
Hour Four Wait, guys! Let’s just go to Nopa! (Or El Rancho Grande if you stubbornly insist on eating Mexican food tonight.)
Waziema may not serve food into the wee hours, but guess who does: Nopa! And you know when it’s marginally more possible to snag a table, or seats at the bar, or at the communal table at Nopa without a reservation? Around midnight, 4 hours in to your Nopalito wait (oh crap, that missed call must have been your table). As back-up plans go, this has to be the best one, every — Nopa’s soaring ceilings, fantastic cocktails, and consistently delicious food offerings have made it one of the city’s best. In fact, we recommend playing it off like this was your plan all along (or was it?!). Share some flatbread and anything involving their smoked trout; tear into their ruby rare cheeseburger, or go big with an order of rotisserie chicken, porchetta, or seared black cod.
If you still stubbornly insist on eating Mexican food tonight, hustle to El Rancho Grande. They make serviceable burritos, are open until midnight, and sell cold beers to wash everything down. You do you, friend.
Nopa: 560 Divisadero St. (at Hayes), 415-864-8643
El Rancho Grande: 855 Divisadero St. (bewteen Fulton and McCallister), 415-673-8226
* There is a second location in the Inner Sunset, which we are ignoring today for simplicity’s sake.
*Nopalito’s brunch is also fantastic and crowded. This guide primarily applies to dinner; if you’re waiting for brunch go snack on some $4 toast and wander around the neighborhood. You’re welcome.