With its Embarcadero perch, Bay Bridge views, and stellar Spanish tapas, celebrity chef Michael Chiarello's San Francisco debut has been an instant hit. Equal parts rustic and chic, his dining room's bold decor—stained wooden beams, cowhide rugs, marble bar—sends out the visual message that Chiarello is on top of his game, and it's fun to see him mingling with diners as they enjoy toothpicked pintxos (small snacks) such as quail egg with Serrano ham. The real draws, though, are the inventive cocktails, luscious paella, and dazzling variation on the cut of pork secreto Ibérico (Iberian secret). The desserts are also small bites, so you'll likely have room to end your experience on a sweet note. Book well in advance for dinner.
Pier 5, on the Embarcadero, near Broadway, San Francisco, California, 94111, United States