|"NOPA" is short for North of the Panhandle, though nobody never called it that when we lived here in the '90s. This restaurant has earned a loyal following of local fans, who pack the place regularly for cocktails at their extensive bar and/or their two levels of dining tables. It's a bit of a contrast between the $26 entr�es here and the drive-by-chicken environment of the Church's across the street, but we cannot argue with Blue Bottle Coffee's James Freeman when he calls it one of the best restaurants in his neighborhood. It's a noisy space - with more than a few clappers among the clientele. ("Clappers" being the sort of American social animal that translates their conversational laughter into something closer to a performing sea lion.) They use an older, two-group La Marzocco Linea at the end of the bar near the kitchen to pull shots of (not surprisingly) Blue Bottle Coffee. They pulled shots of Hayes Valley blend, though they offered a press pot of Three Afrikans for $3.75. The staff here show an awareness of good espresso-making techniques, and they pull shots with an even, medium brown crema of some thickness. It has a nice, round flavor profile - mostly pungent herbal notes but also some cinnamon, tobacco, and a little honey. Although it isn't quite stellar (it could show a little more body and even brightness), it is excellent by restaurant espresso standards. Served in an attractive Heath white cup with matching brown saucer/plate.