Tapas originated from Spanish cuisine, coming from the word tapar or to cover. While many historical accounts explain it, we find that the idea of having a flat piece of bread to cover one’s wine glass at the bar is the best reason the name came about. A tapa is a snack or small plate of appetizers served both hot and cold. It’s great for a groups to share so that everyone can have a taste. Here are the best of San Francisco.
Sister restaurant to Piperade, we can't help but love Chef/Owner Gerald Hirigoyen's quest to provide SF a taste of his Basque hertiage. Bocadillos is Spanish for little sandwich, this place evokes spontaneity with its vivid orange walls and streamlined communal table. It's an informal place where people pop on by while walking through Jackson square for a bite. Some bites to try are the 24 month aged serrano ham bocadillo, pig trotters and the flank steak with a mouth watering chimichurri sauce.
A Spanish-only wine list welcomes you and sets the atmosphere for this informal and lively place. There's a vibrant jade colored patio that's perfect for those warm days in September to enjoy some paper-thin slice of their signature Jamon Iberico de Bellota (Spanish ham where the pigs feed upon acorns) and some Cava. They boast using local purveyors when possible and one can taste the farm freshness in all of the tapas. Finish the night off their Currox (Spanish churros) with hot chocolate.
Nothing brings you back to your travels through Barcelona like a cozy Basque restaurant with exposed brick walls and a giant chandelier made of green glass wine bottles. A must have is the dungeness crab salad "Txangurro", especially when its in season and the mushroom tartlet. The namesake dish "piperade" made of onion, green peppers and sauteed tomatoes is delicious. Even the wine list screams Spanish and enjoy a glass of txakolina at the bar while you wait for a table.
With a picturesque location on Union & Hyde to watch the crowds and trolley go by, Zarzuela is the perfect place to spent a day drinking their tasty Sangria and snacking on the sauteed shrimp in garlic oil. However their signature dishes are their paellas with a perfectly crusty bottom and saffron scent that wafts throughout the room. They don't have a website or take reservation (old school much!) but this kind of traditional way of doing things is something to relish. You might even see SF Celeb Chef Gary Danko hanging around since this is one of his favorite haunts.
Belden Place is an European ex-pat's dream. Full of cafes and restaurants and outdoor seating, it's charming and endearing. One of the jewels here is B44. With lots of red colored decor and comfortable booth seating, get ready for a night of great conversation and tasty treats. The black squid ink Paella tastes of the sea and pair it with the speciality Ferran Adria (of El Buli fame) beer, the Estrella Damn Inedit.