Bellota is a perfectly fine dinner pick when you’re in need of a fun, lively restaurant (FLR for short). This Spanish spot in SoMa on the ground floor of Airbnb’s HQ is so sprawling that it’s versatile—convenient for dates, work dinners, and anytime you draw the short stick and are tasked with finding last-minute reservations for a rather big group. Just prepare to put a dent in your wallet. Dinner tends to get pricey.
The major draw of Bellota, from the group behind Absinthe and Arbor, is that it’s several touches above casual and has an energetic buzz. The U-shaped chef’s counter in the middle of the room is an absolute showstopper. Music filling the space is courtesy of an actual guitarist plucking away in the corner. And big legs of jamón dangle in the window.
photo credit: Krescent Carasso
Their pintxos, tapas, paellas (with optional half-and-half orders), and all kinds of fish and meat are best described as solid, but a tad lackluster. And for the portions you get, prices are high. The namesake Bellota, a.k.a. Cinco Jotas-brand jamón ibérico, is velvet-soft but $40 for a minuscule plate is kind of a bummer. We get the acorn-fed, Iberian ham is black-label elite, we just wish there was more of it so it's more suitable for snacking with a group. There’s also a lovely octopus atop a smokey mojo rojo, but the meat needs more char. And those passable, golf ball-sized crab croquettes overpowered by celery root are two for $20 dollars. So the way to a good time is to go in on the fantastic cocktails or something from their very long list of Spanish wines, and enjoy the music and your company—and maybe a paella to share. Hopefully, someone else is paying.
Buttery, flavorful, and satin-smooth are reasons why this fancy jamón ibérico (from Iberian pigs that have only fed on acorns) gets top marks. Toasted bread and a olive oil-heavy pan con tomate come on the side.
A nice grilled octopus atop a ton of creamy and smoky rojo mojo. This dish would level up if the octopus was charred more. Still, we’re not mad at this.
You can taste more of the celery root than the crab, but these are very moist. And since one order only comes with two, we’d focus on other tapas like the pulpo asado, if you’re with a large group.
Pork belly slices make this one of the better paellas on the menu. The meat is crispy and melty—we would welcome this as an addition to the tapas list. This paella is topped with a medley of butter beans, roasted grapes, and broccolini.
This paella with squid ink rice certainly looks impressive with its huge shrimp, calamari, and clams, but could use more seasoning. Not a must-order.