Traditional Tapas in SF?/Chowhound "thanks"
- Pincho Jul 27, 2006 08:17 AM
I've just started a 5-week stay in the bay area and am starting to happily eat my way through town, mostly San Jose area where I'm staying but in San Francisco as much as possible. Thanks to everyone in the forum for some great pointers, I've yet to be steered wrong in any town by chowhounds! ...
In SF, have tried...
Ton Kiang - I used to visit Harbor Village in the Embarcadero Center as my "go to" dim sum stop when in Sn Francisco, but it is now sadly closed. On recc. from this board, went to Ton Kiang for a weekday dim-sum lunch. The line was out the door but the wait was only about 5 minutes, and my wife, 1-year-old daughter and I were seated at a large round table that could have fit a party of 6 or more... I was impressed that they were not stingy with the large tables despite the crowd. Brusk/efficient yet attentive service. I found the eggrolls overly greasy and way too hot, but everything else was superb, especially the salt-fried shrimp, which were wonderfully cooked, and edible crispy shells and all.
Ferry Plaza Seafood - Stopped here mostly to visit the shops at the Ferry Plaza, and couldn't resist an open table overlooking the bay bridge at FPS... was not expecting too much from the food based on the general observation that places in touristy areas with great views usually are awful. Had clam chowder, fish soup, shrimp sandwich, crab sandwich. The chowder and soup were both excellent, possibly the best NE-style clam chowder I've had outside of the northeast. The sandwiches were on excellent Acme bread... shrimp salad on the sandwich was good but nothing special. Crab was excellent, simply a very generous portion of dungeness crabmeat, what could be better. Simple salad greens with a nicely balanced lemony vinagrette, just a pleasant lunch on a gorgeous day with a gorgeous view and did not feel like a "tourist trap"
On to my question for SF hounds.... my wife is originally from Madrid, and I'm looking for a place serving "mainstream" Spanish tapas like tortilla de patata, good ham that hasn't been crisped/foamed/etc, morcilla, boquerones, others... as opposed to the nuevo latino small-plates places (not that I don't enjoy such places as well) Any quality places like this in SF... or the bay area?
ZARAZUELA's in Russian Hill has OUTSTANDING tapas... it was like I was back in Madrid eating tapas near the Museo Prado...
I think it's on Hyde... google it
wonderful tapas of all types...in fact a few of the main dishes I tried as well (4 guys all hungry ) were great along with all of the wonderful tapas. The sangria was equally outstanding. People rave near where I live in Rockridge (North Oakland near ROCKRIDGE BART stop) about A`COTE. I think its way over-rated. It's decent food but not nearly as good as zarzuela's.... there are also supposedly (haven't been) to good tapas in the mission district as well. Cesar's in North Berkeley (another Alice Water's restaurant) is also decent but still not as good as Zarzuela's
Because you mention a 1 year old, I'm going to suggest a place that is SO different from the above ... PriPri Cafe
The owners are from Spain and set up their cafe to be uber-child friendly. There is a play area in back with books, toys,etc.
It is a no big deal tapas place. It reminds me more of Spain because it is just a neighborhood place to drop in for a small snack or bite. It is not about the scene.
Here's my report
It is on the border of Berkeley and a ride up that way will take you near some of the best eats in the Bay Area.
If you take the University Avenue exit to Berkeley and then a left a few blocks up on San Pablo, you'll pass by the original Acme bakery. Continue up San Pablo and you will hit Solano.
Teance Tea is the most amazing shops in the Bay Area. There are too many great places to mention. Search on Solano.
Pripri is a couple of blocks up from Teance on the same side of the street. You might also enjoy Fonda which is upscale Mexican but has excellent small plates. La Farine is a wonderful bakery and their morning buns are legendary.
Continuing up Solano you will go through a tunnel which will take you to Shattuck Avenue and the gourmet ghetto with the Cheeseboard, Chez Panisse, Epicurian Gardens, Masses ... and a ton of other places.
re: Robert Lauriston
It was like some of the neighborhood joints I stopped by in Spain ... sans play area. Yes there are other types of places that the tourists visit, but if you are just hanging out in the neighborhoods, it is no big deal ... just some snacks and a place to socialize.
They are new so they don't have an alcohol license yet and the fact that they are trying to attract families dictates the current hours. Like I said, they aren't going for the scene.
Area residents are not on Spain-time eating hours. You deal with the deck you are given.
As stated, the OP has a 1 year old. The Pripri owners are from Spain. They might enjoy it.
A new tapas bar is supposed to be coming to the old Straits Cafe location on Geary. Unfortunately, the sign says it won't open until September, but perhaps on your next trip it will be a place to check out.
I have not found any tapas here that come close to what is served in Spain. The last time I went to Zarzuela it the food ranged from so-so to bad, but the space was nice and the service was great.
Bocadillo's is probably your best bet. Be prepared for prices way above what one would pay in Spain.
Try Alegrias on Lombard Street (the non-crooked part). I think the quality is even better than Zarzuela.
Thanks for all the great suggestions, hope to try them soon.
On Pri-Pri... as I did happen to mention my 1-year old it sounds like a place we also hope to check out. We'll leave her at home with grandma for a late night tapas crawl to the other Zarzuela's or Bocadillo! Thanks for the pointers.
Bocadillos is open till 11 Monday through Saturday. That's late by San Francisco standards.
Cesar's kitchen is open till 11 or 11:30 every day. That's *really* late by Berkeley standards.
I'm pretty sure Patio Espanol's the oldest tapas bar in SF. I think Esperpento is the second-oldest, definitely been around longer than Zarzuela.