Zarzuela 2000 Hyde St./Union St., Russian Hill. With an open, yet cozy dining room warmed by butter-yellow Mediterranean walls and beamed ceilings, this gem serves tasty Spanish tapas. Each meal starts with bread and olive oil plus a complimentary plate of exquisite olives. For a terrific tapas dinner, begin with a small plate of salted almonds. Continue with grilled eggplant rolled around creamy goat cheese, crisp fried potatoes with garlic and sherry vinegar, and shrimps sautéed in garlic and olive oil. Make the meal more filling by adding a daily special such as fresh sardines, or paella, or a larger plate--traditional Catalan seafood stew, grilled lamb chops, ox-tail stew—and wash it all down with some traditional sherry. Liqueur-soaked sponge cake stuffed with fruit is a perfect ending.
After, jump on one of the cable cars passing by outside and take a refreshing ride.