To experience a typical Madrid-style tapas bar, head to Russian Hill. Lalola Bar de Tapas makes its own chorizo, and "their tortilla Española is just about as good as it gets in the Bay Area," says flavorenhancer. It recently expanded, perhaps compromising a bit of its authenticity since tapas bars are typically crowded.
"Zarzuela is my favorite. Subtle and homemade quality...not over salted," says ML8000. But in bbulkow's opinion, Iberia "is the only place really like Spain." But maybe strict authenticity misses the point. ThirstyBear, which pairs California-fied tapas with American craft brews, mainlines the fun feel of a real tapas joint, says the mess.
Contigo, Bocadillos (for a Basque touch), and Barlata, with the same Catalan owner as B44, are also hound favorites. And Joan Kureczka likes Esperpento, which has more vegetable dishes than the usual—grilled artichokes are exceptionally good.
Lalola Bar de Tapas [Russian Hill]
1358 Mason Street, San Francisco
Zarzuela [Russian Hill]
2000 Hyde Street, San Francisco
Iberia Restaurant [Peninsula]
1026 Alma Street, Menlo Park
ThirstyBear Brewing Co. [SOMA]
661 Howard Street, San Francisco
Contigo [Noe Valley]
1320 Castro Street, San Francisco
Bocadillos [Jackson Square]
710 Montgomery Street, San Francisco
Barlata [East Bay]
4901 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland
B44 [Union Square]
44 Belden Place, San Francisco
3295 22nd Street, San Francisco