Tapas are an important part of Spanish culture. The word tapa comes from “tapar,” which means “to cover,” and are small plates of food served with a drink.
Spanish tapas are delicious, flavorful, full of fresh ingredients, and cooked using classic seasonings and ingredients.
Sometimes, tapas are fried, battered, and cooked. Other times, tapas can be eaten cold and contain a mixture of cheese and olives.
Contrary to what many believe, tapas can be nearly any Spanish snack or appetizer – and San Francisco is home to many restaurants that happily serve tapas.
I set out to find the best tapas in San Francisco, and this list can help you find your next food destination!
Pier 5 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
Coqueta is a stunning restaurant in San Francisco that offers dozens of options on its dine-in menu. This location has plenty of tapas with unique seasonings and flavors for hot and cold options.
The “Tapas Calientes,” or hot tapas portion of the Coqueta menu includes the following options:
- Patatas Bravas
- Bocadillo La Casa “Bikini”
- Bocadillo De Calamari
- Gambas Negras
- Huevos Rotos
- Pulpo a la Parrilla
- Croquetas de Pollo
- Albondigas de Venado
Cold tapas include options that include olives, citrus, fennel, almonds, salmon, eggs, and caviar. These seasonings and ingredients made these tapas one of the most addictive.
I tried the Olivos del Venedo, and the refreshing combination of citrus and olives puts it at the top of my list of recommendations!
1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115
State Bird Provisions is an elegant and sophisticated location to try new, Spanish-inspired meals in San Francisco.
Reservations can be made 30 days in advance, and it’s highly recommended to do so because the restaurant books up quickly between locals and even celebrities.
The menu for State Bird Provisions changes frequently, and every time I visit, there are always new options to try. The pork rib tapas I ordered on my last visit were some of the best tapas I’ve had.
With plenty of sauce, peppers, and citrus, these tapas were some of the best snacks I’ve ever had at any one restaurant.
2018 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123
Alegrias is a Spanish restaurant that serves only the most authentic food possible. This restaurant specializes in Spanish tapas, paella, wine, and sangria near the marina district by the San Franciscan coast.
Alegrias has near-endless varieties for cold and warm tapas, most including seasoned meats, olives, and cheese.
Cold tapas at Alegrias include almonds, cheese, anchovies, and sausages with seasoning options like cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.
Warm tapas can contain crab, plenty of vegetables, greens like spinach, and calamari. My favorite of the many tapas I’ve tried at Alegrias include the bocadillos de cangrejo and the almendras marconas saladas.
42 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94111
Bask is a bright and exciting restaurant with natural light. This building has plenty of windows that give diners a stunning view of the world outside.
The natural lighting combined with the industrial-like chandeliers overhead creates a fun and exciting environment.
Bask chefs pride themselves on enhancing natural food flavors and use only fresh, local ingredients. Fans of calamari, ham, and patatas bravas will enjoy Bask.
There is plenty of fried and cold tapas to try. I enjoyed the Fried calamari, and I recommend trying it for yourself!
Cha Cha Cha is known for their signature bold flavors and offers dozens of options for iconic tapas. Classic empanadas, ceviche, steamed mussels, and addictive paella dishes are all featured menu favorites.
When searching for the best tapas in San Francisco, Cha Cha Cha makes the list. My favorite dish was the sauteed mushroom options.
This included scallion, dry sherry wine, and a selection of fresh herbs with garlic. I recommend this for vegetarian diners or as a meat-alternative option for those seeking a fresh meal!
468 19th St, Oakland, CA 94612
Located in Oakland’s uptown district, Duende is a modern and casual restaurant and the perfect location for diners who want a wide selection of classic Spanish tapas to browse.
Duende has traditional items like fried Brussel sprouts and patatas bravas; they also have signature items like Spanish tortillas and mussels.
I recommend the Pez Espada en Escabeche, a food item including locally-sourced swordfish, sherry wine, saffron, pickle, and a stunning grilled bread. This tapa is a crowd-pleaser with a fresh taste!
2518 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Lolinda, located in the Mission District, opened in 2012 and offers plenty of Latin American flavors. There are dozens of delicious and addictive options to browse and eat at this restaurant.
Lolinda offers cold and hot tapas and a wide variety of meals cooked over a wood-fired grill. A popular spot for locals looking to relax, celebrate or conduct business meetings, Lolinda offers a lively ambiance.
I recommend the ceviche pescado, a cold meal that has fish and a stunning and bold mixture of ingredients.
974 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
LoLo is a stunning and vibrant restaurant with a lively atmosphere located in San Francisco. Alongside outdoor dining options and LED lights that set the mood, this restaurant offers stunning service and food.
LoLo features classic Spanish cuisine options, including empanadas, ceviche, and tostadas. LoLo chefs create some of the best tapas in San Francisco in the restaurant’s open kitchen.
Known for using flavors from the Western Pacific Mexican District, the food is bold and delicious. I reccomend the grillos tostadas, a meal with lime crickets, avocado, queso fresco, and salsa.
3120 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Family-owned since 1982, Picaro became the first tapas restaurant in San Francisco in 1994. Known for its tapas, paella, and sangria, Picaro is a premier destination for those looking for a wide selection of Spanish cuisine.
Vegetarians and those with a restricted diet may benefit from the wide menu that Picaro offers. From meat, poultry, cold cuts, and cheeses, there’s something for everyone on Picaro’s menu. There’s even a platter that combines the best of everything, in case you can’t decide!
My favorite dish on the menu for tapas was the repollo, a perfect way to get vegetables without sacrificing flavor. This meal consists of sauteed cabbage with garlic and paprika.
2708 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
There are plenty of tapas and delicious snacks available on the Destapas SF menu. Whether you are looking for classics like pan con tomate or something fun and exciting like a tapas sampler tower, Destapas SF has everything you may be looking for in a Spanish-inspired meal.
I recommend the mejillones escabeche, a delicious selection of pickled mussels sourced from Spain and served with sauce and potato chips.
This meal is especially refreshing and delicious as it is served with escabeche sauce, a sweet and sour fish sauce that complements mussels wonderfully.
2272 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Every item ordered from Canela Bistro & Wine Bar is made to order and is always fresh. This restaurant offers plenty of tapas that include mushrooms, garlic, and seasoned potatoes. Here, you can also order classic patatas bravas or a Spanish tortilla with egg, green onion, and potato.
I recommend the setas tapas that Canela Bistro & Wine Bar offers. This set of items includes stunning oyster mushrooms in garlic, olive oil, and delicious dry sherry wine.
993 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103
The Pawn Shop is a unique restaurant because it is located in a space that once housed a pawn shop, thus the name.
The environment is unique, and food meets creativity at this exciting location. You’ll need to speak with the pawn master to enter.
Inside, The Pawn Shop offers plenty of delicious tapas, including vegan, vegetarian, and meat-eater options.
The patatas bravas is my favorite from The Pawn Shop and includes fried potato, tomato sauce, and garlic aioli.
2000 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Abrazo is a Spanish word meaning “warm embrace,” and Abrazo offers dozens of food options that feel like a warm embrace for the stomach.
Abrazo strives to be a friendly neighborhood restaurant and has a menu to match. Abrazo offers tapas filled with braised chicken, ham, and bold chilies.
The chefs at Abrazo also use black truffle aioli and cherry tomatoes to boost the flavor of these tapas. They may be one of the best tapas I’ve ever had on all my travels!
1327 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
El Lopo is an elegant and exciting location with a wide variety of food choices and options. The menu has plenty of Spanish-inspired foods to browse.
Some items offer refreshing combinations of ingredients, while others play with bold and familiar flavors.
My favorite item on the El Lopo menu is the Galician-style tapa, an item filled with braised greens, spring onions, potatoes, and spicy peppers.
Tapas are a classic snack and appetizer in many Central American countries, especially Mexico. San Francisco is a hub of culture and contains many restaurants with Spanish cuisine, making this city a perfect place to get the tastiest and most addictive tapas in California.
Some of these restaurants offer hot, fried tapas, and others specialize in cold tapas that can be quick snacks.
Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment, and we’ll check it out!
- State Bird Provisions
- Cha Cha Cha
- Destapas SF
- Canela Bistro & Wine Bar
- The Pawn Shop
- El Lopo
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