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Jul 9, 2014 07:05 PM

Best Paella in San Francisco/Oakland?

Most posts on this topic are several years old so I'm hoping there's better news than in '07. I was traveling and had paella in Portland at Toro Brovo and it was delicious. I am hoping somewhere here can do as well. Any ideas?

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  1. Best Paella I have had locally is a parties or functions that hire a Paella master to cook for the event.

    I tried Barlata in Oakland a year ago and it was good but not fantastic.

    But they are closing soon.

    1. Coqueta has perfectly fine paella, but it wasn't particularly mindblowing. Seafood/meat wasn't too rubbery, there was a bit of funk and decently flavorful without being too salty.

      9 Replies
      1. re: goldangl95

        I second this... The times I/we have had it, the rice was cooked to proper doneness and the all important 'crispy bits' were present too... ^^

        1. re: goldangl95

          Do they make it with the soccarat (bottom crust of browned crispy ric)? Have never seen it in a restaurant with the desired masterful rice crust on the bottom contrasting with the softer uncrisped rice of the top. And of of course, pefectly cooked seafood.

          1. re: stanbee

            Speaking of soccarat, I remember when I asked the Venga paella guy for some at Eat Real, he said that he doesn't make his paella that way because no one likes that part. :(

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I was gonna say maybe the restaurant's different than the street version. But here's what Luke Tsai's review said: "And in general there was little if any socarrat — the crunchy, caramelized rice crust that forms at the bottom of the pan, prized by many as the very best part of the paella."

            1. re: stanbee

              I just had the paella at Coqueta last week. Very tasty, but I don't think would serve 2-3 people (per the menu) as a meal even with a few tapas. Shrimp were tasty but almost overcooked (not quite rubbery) and there were 6 anemic clams. Not sure if I would order this again for $45 and no soccarat. I haven't tried B44 but took a look on Yelp and one person said the paella was good but complained that there was a lot of rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. Soccarat?

              1. re: jzc

                My post on Coqueta has two photos of the paella we had. You can see the soccarat.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Your's looks so yummy. I wonder if they had a different chef when I went. Ours looked anemic overall in regards to toppings. Shrimp were decent sized but I had to hunt for the chorizo. It was chopped up and I think mixed in. Clams were tiny and dry and no soccarat in sight.

                  1. re: jzc

                    I was there on a Sunday afternoon. I think our paella order might have been the first one the kitchen made that day, as soon as dinner service started at 5pm.

          2. venga paella was a minor disappointment. the veggies in the vegeterian paella were great. the rice was alternating between mushy and crunchy. poor cooking?

            2 Replies
            1. re: shanghaikid

              At Venga we had both the Traditionale (chorizo and a bit of seafood) and the Arroz Negro, both were excellent and properly cooked. Venga is very light on the protein, FYI for those who haven't been there. We usually get a skewer of the grilled shrimp to throw in.

              Venga is very different than Duende. Venga is small, plain, quiet, very simple. We enjoyed it a lot!

              We really liked Zarzuela but it was the wedge of tuna empanada that knocked our socks off. Parking is hideous so we parked in the nearby garage which added another $20 to the tab.

              1. re: jaiko

                seems timing is everything. went lunch or early afternoon one day. got a parking space in front. only one other table present. went for the posted "special" which wasn't since i found it on the menu online afterwards.

                with paella, the rule may be: order when it's busy so paella will be fresh. no doubt i may have gotton "leftover" rice. veggies fresh so that's a good sign.

                echoing mooncake, thought portion (rice and veggie) was small. no doubt Venga is trying to sell appetitzers too.

            2. Love, love, love Toro Bravo!

              In Oakland, Duende is very good. There's also a pretty good paella place west of Jack London Square--Venga.

              I've spoken to at least one Spaniard who swears by Zarzuela on Russian Hill, but I have no personal experience there.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Rapini

                I liked Duende's paella in Oakland a lot too (and also really like Barlata's arros negre, which is similar, so I imagine their paellas are good too--but not sure what their last day is...)

                1. re: artemis78

                  They said probably end of August. Depends on when the liquor license transfer goes through, I believe.

                  B44's is identical except maybe a bigger portion.

                2. re: Rapini

                  Toro Brovo was my favorite meal of the whole vacation. I also loved their grilled octopus and bacon wrapped dates.

                  I have wanted to try Zarzuela but the parking is just impossible.

                3. Had one exceptional one but there was no bottom glory of crisp browned rice crust. When I revisited,the paella sucked -change of herbs.

                  Best in my kitchen