authentic spanish tapas in rancho santa fe


César has been the preeminent tapas bar in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 18 years, routinely making the list for The San Francisco Chronicle’s annual “100 Best Restaurants of the Bay Area”. Its cookbook, César: Recipes from a Tapas Bar (10 Speed Press, 2004), was hailed by Food & Wine magazine as “one of the ten best cookbooks of the year”. The compact, elegant bar-restaurant has garnered legions of fans over the years from around the world with its extensive repertoire of tapas (Spain’s tradition of little dishes), thoughtful selection of wines, spirits, Spanish Sherry and aperitifs, and its expertly-made cocktails. 

When Chez Panisse alum Richard Mazzera and his original partners first opened the doors to César in 1998, it was the first truly authentic tapas bar in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one of the first in the United States. Located next door to the world-famous restaurant in Berkeley’s beloved “Gourmet Ghetto”, it has thrived from the very beginning. Behind Richard’s unerring flair for creating excitement in the dining room, and with the kitchen under the auspices of Executive Chef Maggie Pond, César has been one of the most popular dining and drinking destinations in Northern California. 

This spring Richard, along with his wife and business partner, Terumi Shibata-Mazzera, is poised to open the first César outside the Bay Area in beautiful Rancho Santa Fe. The opening of César in Rancho Santa Fe marks a return for Richard to Southern California. Prior to moving north to take the reins at Chez Panisse, Richard spent a decade managing some of the top restaurants in Los Angeles. 

Situated in a stunning site across from the Helen Woodward Animal Center, César Rancho Santa Fe will have the same look and feel of the original Berkeley bar, and with Maggie Pond back to set up and train the kitchen, it will feature the same great-tasting, authentic tapas, recipes gleaned from numerous working trips to Spain by Maggie and Richard. Combining many of Spain’s finest artisan products with the best of California’s rich culinary treasures, including fruits and vegetables from nearby Chino Farms, César promises to bring the exciting tapas experience to Rancho Santa Fe.