Perfect For: Action at the Bar Dinner with the Parents Eating At The Bar See And Be Seen Small Plates

An 8 p.m. reservation at SF tapas mecca Coqueta probably does theoretically exist. It’s like a narwhal; Every time you hear about it, you have to double check to make sure it is, in fact, not a myth. (Yes, narwhals are real. Yes they are SWIMMING EFFING UNICORNS.)

So if you’re perusing Open Table and happen upon the rare table here that isn’t at 5 or 9:30pm, TAKE IT. You should probably take the 5 o’clock reservation as well. Your boss will understand.

That post-work reservation is actually the move at Coqueta, and you'll notice that dictates the crowd here, which is to say: a lot of suits. If you work in the Financial District, it’s a quick walk up Market (and unless you're stopping by the Ferry Building, when else are you hanging around the Embarcadero?).

While there isn’t much near Coqueta – meaning it’s probably your only destination for the night – the restaurant is a sign of good things for the Embarcadero. Unlike many of the other old piers languishing as parking lots, Coqueta puts the high ceilings and massive windows of its old waterfront building to excellent use.

You know what else Chef Michael Chiarello puts to excellent (if not excessive) use here? Spanish jamon. There's a jamon iberico infused gin and tonic, and there's even jamon in the salad dressing. It's like the Where’s Waldo of cured meat; good luck finding it all.

Food Rundown

Pan con Tomate

You’d think you need to add the optional jamon serrano to make it worthwhile – and you’d be right – but the sweet/salty tomato paste steals the show. Comes with a tiny spoon for making sure you eat all of it.

Salmon Ahumado

A tiny Spanish bagel with cream cheese and lox. The truffle honey topping contrasts perfectly with the smoky salmon and tangy queso fresco, putting this squarely in the do not miss category.


Pintxo is Spanish for very long tooth pick with tiny morsels of food on the end, and these skewers look cuter than they taste.If you must, the deviled quail egg with pickled mustard and (oh hey!) jamon serrano is solid. The spinach tortilla was bland.

Pimientos de Padron

Padron peppers are so easy to make well at home, it’s almost a crime to pay $10 at a restaurant. That said, these ones are good and easy to share. The sherry brings them to life. Pray that you don’t get a fiery hot one. (Editor's note: on your stove top, roast w/ olive oil and salt until blistered. Add a spritz of lemon. Boom.)

Gambas al Negro

Big ass prawns. Our waitress came through big with extra bread to sop up the garlic chili sauce.

Ensalada de Achicoria

Bitter chicory salad is nicely balanced with a poached pear and, why yes there is jamon serrano in the dressing.

Albondigas a la Feria

En ingles, meatballs, albondigas is easily on the list of all-time greatest Spanish words. And these duck/pork meatballs are so rich and warm and delicious you will be never forget the word albondigas again.

Verduras a la Catalana

The best veggie-based dish on the menu, it’s a plate of tangy sautéed greens with raisins and pine nuts. You may not even notice it is jamon-free.

Postres Pequenos

Like the Pinxtos but for dessert. Manchego cheesecake is everything you hope it will be and tangy-er. The pan con chocolate comes with an ever-so-subtle olive oil ice cream that perfectly completes a meal at Coqueta.

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