Zarzuela: Best Tapas Restaurant in SF + Very Affordable

  Posted by - July 11, 2014 - $ (0-20), NightTime, Restaurants, San Francisco

You know when you literally can’t stop eating?

It’s not that you’re hungry. Actually, you’re quite full already.

But the food is just too.freakin.good?

Whelp. That was me at Zarzuela this past weekend.

(side: I think I nearly gained 10lbs after dinner)


Over the years, Zarzuela remains one of the best value restaurants in town. Known for their Spanish cuisine, yellow stucco walls, and highly experienced waiters, Zarzuela offers delicious and authentic Spanish tapas- most for under $8! { <- – uhm. Is this real life in SF?? #mindblown }

I came here last weekend with my dear friend Anita Lau (who was just featured on Hells Kitchen as a guest judge AND she runs this awesome foodie blog: Mad Hungry Woman). She says this is her FAV restaurant in San Francisco and I can totally see why.

So here’s what we had:

 Pulpo A La Gallega $9.95

The poached octopus is sprinkled with paprika that’s fanned over slices of potatoes & onions.

The octopus was tender & delicious and I’d highly recommend getting this to share!

PS: The serving size is quite large for a tapa (OBV not complaining).

Jamon Iberico

(Imported serrano ham, bread & fresh tomato)

The bread is lightly toasted and comes with a fresh tomato puree. The ham was terrific and not too salty.

Side: This isn’t on the menu, so ask your waiter for it!

Boquerones En Vinagre $7.25

Succulent pieces of anchovy fillets are marinated in a vinegary dressing served with salad leaves.

Anchovies are a little too fishy for my liking, but the rest of our table loved it!

 Gambas Ajillo $7.25

The shrimp is sautéed in garlic & olive oil. It arrives in a sizzling skillet, leaving off a mouthwatering and savory fragrance.

Tip: dip your bread into the sauce. Sooo yum!

Empanadas del dia ($7.25)

Their empanadas are a bit unusual; they weren’t enclosed like you’d be used to–> It was more like a pressed sandwich.

Still delicious, but I don’t know if my brain processed them as “real” empanadas.

(The fillings change each night, so ask your sever what the empanada of the day is!) 

 Mejillones Al Azafran $7.25

The mussels are sauteed in a tasty white wine with garlic, tomatoes, onions & saffron.

This was cooked well, and the sauce went perfectly with the mussels.

 Chorizo Al Vino $6.75

Sauteed spanish sausage in a wine sauce served in a small skillet.

The sausages are perfectly cooked and the sauce is delicious- just a tad bit on the saltier side.

Don’t forget to dip the bread into the sauce!

Pasteles De Cangrejo Con Salsa Rosa $9.95

You get two huge crab cakes with salsa rosa. These actually break apart easily when you cut into it.

They’re crispy on the outside and packed with tons of crab pieces inside. Very tasty!

 Pimientos Asados 4.75

These peppers are roasted in a sherry vinegar, olive oil & garlic sauce.

They’re usually mild, but if you’re lucky…you’ll find one that’ll knock your socks off.

 Croquetas De Jamon Y Pollo $6.25

I usually try to stay away from fried foods, but these croquettes filled with ham & cheese were delish!

They were so crispy on the outside, yet melty, soft and creamy on the inside…just the way I like it. 

so yeah…I def went to town on these. #notsorry 

 Chuletas De Cordero A La Plancha 11.95 / 21.95

Their grilled lamb chops are flavored in a rosemary & garlic sauce.

The meat is good, but not as tender as I would have liked. The best lamb chops I’ve ever had is still at Kokkari Estiatorio.

 Paella A La Valenciana $36 (serves 2)

Their paella is one of the best in the city. Comes with Spanish rice stained with saffron and other herbs, topped with huge chunks of chicken, fish, shrimp, rings of calamari, green beans, red bell peppers, mussels and clams. They say it serves 2, but if you’re also getting other tapas, this will definitely feed the entire table.

PS: this takes a while to make, so make sure you order it accordingly.

All of us took turns savoring each bite. So if you haven’t been to Zarzuela, add it to your list!

Trussttt mee…..Every bite is so worth it!

BTW- they don’t take ressies, so we went right when they opened at 5:30 p.m. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this, but they had a swarm of people waiting for a table before they opened –> so go early or be prepared to wait. Either way, you won’t be disappointed!


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