Canela Bistro & Wine Bar

One high-concept project after another has flamed out in the Castro over the past decade, but Mat Schuster’s tapas restaurant remains a notable exception. Canela Bistro and Wine Bar thrives, owing as much to its pintxos and Spanish cheese selection as to its expansive wine list filled with albariños, garnachas, and lesser-known varietals from the Basque Country. Perhaps the only SF restaurant to embrace outdoor dining by selling patrons warm socks and blankets, Canela’s menu specials are also worth keeping on your radar at Halloween, Passover, Cinco de Mayo, and pretty much all holidays, along with prix fixes tied to SF Gay Men’s Chorus shows and musical-theater openings. The Castro may always be more of an entertainment district than a hotbed of fine dining, but Canela threads that needle well.

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