Five restaurants to taste Spanish food in the Bay Area
What happens when you combine fresh market produce from the Bay Area with legendary Spanish influence in San Francisco? You’ll get your pick of the best creative culinary cuisine, starring on many-a-menu in restaurants across the city. It’s time for tapas, San Francisco style!
Founders Chef Cesar and Nora have passed the torch to new owners Arman and Angelynne at Alegrias, but with protégé Chef Jose Ortez now heading up the kitchen. This means that San Francisco’s favorite, cozily refined joint continues to serve up iconic paellas and tapas with the same vibe after 24 years in the Marina District. Wine connoisseurs will be captivated by the list; featuring unique and unusual wines from across Spain.
Must try: Mejillones Alegrias or Arroz Negro
Located in a landmark building, this impressive Spanish eatery gets a lot of press attention - including from the Michelin Guide - and it’s easy to see why. Watch through the open kitchen as Chef Ryan McIlwraith perfects old world stews and meats grilled over a wood-fired hearth. Bellota is also known for its happening bar scene, with signature cocktails by Jonny Raglin and sherry on tap.
Must try: Paella Valenciana
Sharing their love for simplicity and quality, fresh ingredients, owners Sabrina and Patrick pay homage to Basque cooking through a winning combo of menu and modern-bohemian setting. This is casual Spanish dining at its best; think tapas, sharing platters, Pyrenees-style and plenty of mar y montaña (surf and turf) to choose from.
Must try: Grilled octopus with fabada beans and espelette pepper
Canela Bistro & Wine Bar
Mat Schuster, Canela’s executive chef, invites you to live his dream of sophisticated Spanish flavors and gourmet products blended with coastal cuisine. You’ll get a real holiday for the senses here, as Canela is built around texture and aroma, both through the decor and what features on the plate. Add an extensive Spanish wine list and elaborate cocktails to the mix and you’ll see why Canela is the trusted date night choice in Castro.
Must try: Chorizo Coca flatbread
Nearly two decades ago, Chef Gerald Hirigoyen and his wife Cameron created their very own niche in San Francisco. Presenting West Coast Basque Cuisine at this artsy cool fine-dining restaurant, you can expect flavors from both sides of the Pyrenees - where French meets traditional Basque cooking. Piperade is recommended for special occasions and group dining, both indoors and out.
Must try: Seafood and Shellfish Stew Bizkaiko