Tap into tapas
Photo courtesy of Loló.
It’s the little things in life that can mean the most. Take tapas, for instance. When you want to savor a small taste of everything, or you want to dig into fun family-style sharing, this Spanish approach to dining is a must. Why limit yourself to one large order when you can share in the enjoyment of several small plates? Mini potato squares are delicious, but mini potato squares draped in spicy aioli sauce? Say hola to your new best friend, patatas bravas. Try that signature tapas alongside croquettes, cheese spreads, garlic prawns and more.
These BARTable tapas restaurants range from casual to classy, but each knows how to do bite-size with big flavors. Whether its Spanish, Caribbean or Mexican tapas that you’re craving, don’t forget the carafe (or two) of sangria and you’ll feel like you’re basking in a spicy summer night far from the Bay Area.
East Bay Tapas
Duende is a classy go-to for Spanish tapas and refined drinks in Uptown Oakland. Conveniently located steps from 19th St/Oakland Station, this alluring restaurant pours plenty of wine and sangria to wash down its popular platters of paella and small plates. Padron peppers, Gruyere fritters and fried oysters are some of the choice tapas to share when you’re craving the Spanish flare for bite-size cuisine in a candlelit setting.
César lures patrons craving hand-held bites in a down-home bistro setting to Downtown Berkeley’s Shattuck Avenue. In addition to charcuterie platters with cheeses and Spanish chorizo, dip your bread into gambas al diablo or saucy grilled Brussels sprouts. Well-lit and wood-laden environs set the scene for comfortable, casual feasts during which tasty tapas urge you to try a bit of everything. Still hungry? Order the popular paella to go for some César at home.
Co Nam differs from a typical “tapas bar” with its Vietnamese-inspired small plates just steps from MacArthur Station. Stars on the eclectic and authentic menu include the seductive Wicked Buns (petite-sized envelopes of five-spice marinated chicken and pickled vegetables in a folded white bun) or the shredded papaya salad. Rounding out the experience, the full bar mixes up craft cocktails adorned with paper umbrellas and flowers for colorful companions to your meal in a cozy-but-sleek environment.
This vibrant tapas gathering spot that’s located steps from 16th St Mission BART Station lures the hungry and the social with its small plates of tortilla de patata, albondigas, jamón serrano and more. Mix and match your preferred flavors of meats, cheeses and potato offerings amidst a friendly setting. Still hungry? There’s always paella to fill any gaps in the belly at this restaurant with a popular happy hour.
Coqueta serves up tapas in a classy setting overlooking the San Francisco waterfront near Embarcadero Station. Take in Bay Bridge views on the restaurant’s patio seating as you try the seasonal menu of Spanish tapas made with a Northern California approach. Craft cocktails (including gin and tonics, of course) and a full wine list round out Coqueta’s feast for all the senses.
At Loló, the backdrop to your meal is just as energizing and lively as the plates of bright foods on the beloved Jalisco-inspired menu. Floral and tropical scenes light up the multi-colored walls where hanging lamps spotlight mezcal cocktails and agave flights along a long bar. Crab croquetas, panko avocado tacos, queso fundido (made with Oaxaca cheese) and empanadas are some of the scene stealers at this Valencia Street favorite.
Cha Cha Cha
Really, the name says it all. Cha Cha Cha is synonymous with good times in SF. This staple Caribbean tapas and sangria dining spot for a lively night out packs every space on the table with its selection of shared plates. Don’t miss out on the signature Platanos Maduros (sweet plantains with black beans and sour cream), Cajun shrimp, chicken wings (with a guava-chile glaze) and Cha3 Jerk Chicken. Plenty of casual and energetic group gatherings get fuel for the fire at this bustling Mission standard.