Best Tapas - 2005
710 Montgomery (at Washington), 982-2622, www.bocasf.com
The small-plates frenzy still engulfing the San Francisco restaurant scene was inspired by the many tapas bars in Spain. Small plates can be found all over town, in dizzying variety, but our favorite spot draws its inspiration from the source. Gerald Hirigoyen's Bocadillos is named for a small sandwich (on a floury roll, stuffed with aged serrano ham, Catalan sausage, roast beef, or numberless other items) that's available, two to a plate, in a dozen variations at lunch and a couple at dinner. Lunch also offers a tapa of the day, plus soups and salads. At dinner, there are about 30 cold and hot tapas to choose from. We loved a succulent fried patty of chopped pigs' trotters, a fragrant tripe stew, meaty baby-back ribs glazed with honey and sherry, a salad of cool strips of charred flatiron steak topped with garlic-and-parsley chimichurri, and another cold salad of bacalao, potato, and aioli. A beautiful, wittily written wine list provides a pithy yet poetic description of each of its glasses and bottles. You can finish with a delicious warm bread pudding packed with strands of coconut and topped with diced pineapple, pistachio ice cream (full of whole pistachios) sandwiched between two almond macaroons, or warm bitter chocolate cake buried under chunks of sautéed bananas.