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BOTA

BOTA

If you’re a theatergoer, you want a pre-show meal that’s tasty, not so filling you fall asleep in the second act, and, most important, fast. We missed one first act because the restaurant’s service was so damned slow.

So, what kind of restaurant meets those three requirements? It’s clearly not French. Nor an exquisite Japanese sushi-making performance. And not a heavy bean cuisine.

No, the ideal pre-show meal is probably Spanish tapas. Tapas: small portions, quick service, and, when done right, ever so tasty. For a tapas treat in the corazón of San Francisco’s theater district, Bota is a good choice.

The restaurant has an unusual, maybe unique, layout — it straddles the lobby of the Warwick Hotel. On one side sits Bota’s bar and comfy couched lounge. On the other, two cheery side-by-side dining rooms. You can order from any of them.

Bota’s menu includes items besides tapas, notably paella and larger dishes, sometimes called tablas. We tried both and came away with a strong preference for the tapas. Here’s what we tasted:

Padron Pepper ($12). Small Spanish peppers which range from sweetly mild to my-tongue’s-on-fire. You can’t tell the diff by sight, only by response to the first bite.

Brussel Sprouts ($12). While these days, Brussel sprouts are the de rigueur item on just about every San Francisco menu, I’m not usually a fan. Bota’s sprouts are an exception; creamy, slightly spicy and slathered in San Simone cheese. My kind of veggie.

 Garlic Prawns ($15). Oh yeah. Can’t go wrong with shrimp and garlic, sherry and peppers.

 Chicken Cannelloni ($12). The highlight dish of the evening. Don’t miss it.

 We also tried three desserts, two of which lit up our taste buds. The third, Churros, would have if they’d been served warm, but cold, uh, not so much. Crema Catalana was better; a soft, creamy flan flavored with cinnamon. Chocolate Ganache consists of dark chocolate swirls enhanced by judicious use of sea salt and olive oil. All desserts are $9.

 Bota Tapas & Paella Bar:  490 Geary Street, near Taylor Street, in San Francisco. Serves dinner Monday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.; lunch Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and breakfast Monday to Friday, 7 to 10:30 a.m., Saturday 7 to 10:30 a.m. and on Sunday from 7 a.m. to noon. Parking garages nearby and valet parking can be provided. Excellent public transport. visit http://botasf.com/, (415) 345-2303.

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