Best Spanish Restaurants in San Francisco

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July 21, 2016
by Zagat Staff

Here's Zagat's top rated Spanish/Basque restaurants in the city of SF. 

Tapas · Noe Valley · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

A true "modern" tapas " bar, this " lively " Noe Valley " favorite " offers " beautifully prepared " Spanish and Catalan small plates " with a Californian twist " that fans call comparable to any " this side of Barcelona "; there's also an " extensive " regional wine selection and a " helpful " staff to assist navigating it, but since it’s " always packed ", be prepared to " chat it up with strangers" sitting close by whether you dine at the counter, tiny tables or on the garden patio.
Spanish · Embarcadero · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.2

Experience Michael Chiarello's "magic at its best" at this "happening" Spaniard (and Bottega sibling) on the Embarcadero, where a "rustic" locale with "perfect bay views" sets the stage for sharing the "delectable" likes of paella, bite-size pintxos and tapas, all punched up with "American twirl and show" and ferried by an "efficient" staff; even with "platinum-card" pricing, it's a "very popular" spot with a "lively" bar for "sipping cleverly constructed cocktails" and regional wines.
Spanish · Russian Hill · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.3

"I hope they stay here forever" say fans of this "terrific neighborhood tapas place in Russian Hill" that's "right on the cable car line" and serves "authentic Spanish food" along with "first-rate" sangria; an "accommodating" staff and "good value" help compensate for the "no-reservations" policy in a room that's "small" and often "crowded" , but still has "charm."
Spanish · Marina District · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.1

Recalling a "Madrid neighborhood hot spot" , this "energetic" , "family-run" Spanish tapas tavern in the Marina offers "fantastic" small plates that "pack a lot of variety in a single meal" ; "authentic" decor, "genuine" service and "reasonable prices" all add to an experience that "will make you smile."
Canela Bistro & Wine Bar
Spanish · The Castro · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

"Strong flavors" mark an "excellent" Spanish tapas menu prepared with "contemporary touches" at this "cute" Castro place also known for pouring "well-chosen" "old-world" wines; "comfortable" quarters manned by a "warm, professional" staff only add to its status as a "worthy" neighborhood destination.
Esperpento Restaurant
Spanish · The Mission · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.2

"Authentic tapas" , "killer paella" and "delicious sangria" remind diners of the old country at this "cozy" Mission Spaniard; the "colorful" space may be a "little shabby" , but "awesome" service, "affordable" tabs and a "lively atmosphere" keep the regulars returning.
The Commissary
Californian · The Presidio · $$$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.1

Lots of "heart and soul" shows in the "craveable" Spanish-influenced Californian fare by Traci Des Jardin at this "lovely" restored former Presidio mess hall that's "warm and inviting" , creating a "wonderful blend of history" with food that's "right up to date" ; communal seating, outdoor tables and "amazing" cocktails by "knowledgeable" bartenders enhance the scene, plus diners "love" facing the open kitchen and "watching the action" ; P.S. takeaway picnic items are available too.