Full-blooded Spaniards swear by the paella at this tiny Old World–style bistro, complete with matador art on the wall, not far from the crookedest street in the world (Lombard). Also not to be missed is the homemade sangria—or the goat cheese baked in tomato sauce or poached octopus prepared by chef Lucas Gasco, who grew up in Madrid. Opened in 1994, Zarzuela was among the Bay Area's first wave of modern tapas restaurants and today offers about 30 small plates, as well as heartier dishes such as Catalan seafood stew. Arched windows overlook Hyde Street and the cable cars rolling by. Riding the Powell–Hyde line to and from dinner adds to the romance of the evening and saves you the nightmare of parking in this neighborhood where spaces are scarce.
- Address: 2000 Hyde St., Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA, 94109
- Phone: 415/346–0800
- Location: Mission District
- Reservations not accepted
- Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch.