If you’re looking for an excuse to put on your red beret for a night out, Bocadillos is it. The friendly, laid-back staff keeps the wine, sherry, and Basque cider flowing under a vaulted ceiling with paprika-hued walls and flattering low lights. Chef and owner Gerald Hirigoyen has proved himself a key import to SF’s food scene, first at Pipérade and as of 2004 at Bocadillos. This upbeat little spot sits in the shadow of the Transamerica tower, and it is here that Hirigoyen brings his Basque heritage to full flower through a tapas and pintxos menu. The detailed, flavorful cooking is as evocative and entertaining as the famous bar cuisine of San Sebastián and Bilbao. The namesake bocadillos (compact meat-filled sandwiches) form just one of several categories, including “fried” (cod fritters, brussels sprouts with Asian pear), “roasted” (chicken wings, white beans with chorizo and pork belly), and true Basque pintxos (chilled prawns, blood orange and serrano ham). The creative wine list draws equally from Spain’s great bodegas and California vintners. FiDi workers come in droves for lunch and after work, drawn to the serious but fun finger food amid an atmosphere that suggests table dancing and all-night revelry.

sweet seats

With mostly table service, Bocadillos is a proper restaurant, but it’s a tapas place at heart. If you can find a stool, the polished wood bar tucked into the corner is a good lookout post and refuge when the dinner crowd is surging.

chew on this

If Hirigoyen were to relocate to the Basque province of Gipuzcoa, he’d have to compete with 2,000 other restaurants in and around the food-frenzied city of Donostia–San Sebastián, which claims just half the population of San Francisco.


Mon.–Fri. 7 AM–10 PM
Sat. 5 PM–10 PM
closed Sunday; no reservations

price range for menu items

$3 (pintxos) to $15 (snapper ceviche)