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Food & Drink

Best Spanish Restaurant 

Café Bella Vista

The setting, an underdecorated ground-floor space with an open kitchen in a new Mission District apartment building, is neither particularly impressive nor particularly Spanish, but the food that issues from that kitchen is tasty, affordable, even exciting. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch as well as dinner, but it's the evening meal that shines. Nightly tapas include glistening white anchovies, steamed mussels, and fried calamari with aioli; there's also a fabulous soup made with fresh and dried peas and studded with chunks of ham, as well as a thin but refreshing gazpacho. Freshly made cheese croquettes come with green salad; follow that with garlicky specialties such as pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken) with potatoes, arroz con pollo (saffron rice with chicken), gambos al ajillo (garlic prawns), or seafood paella (a frequent special). The best dessert is a honeyed chocolate mousse. (Note: The restaurant is on hiatus, but will reopen at the end of May.)

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