Canela Bistro…. A San Francisco Treasury for Spanish Food & Wine – 9.5 (95/100 Pts) – James Melendez

Earlier this year I had the privilege of sitting with Mat Schuster and Paco Cifuentes.  I had visited Canela Bistro for their second year anniversary in business.  San Francisco is such a tough restaurant town–both because of the many competitors and very particular tastes and culinary interests of San Franciscans.  Spanish restaurants are not as numerous as Italian or other fares in the City.  But therein lies the opportunity to present the best of Spain food in San Francisco.

Mat and Paco are bookends when in comes to the dining experience.  Mat is the chef and interpreter of Spanish cuisine and Paco is the wine expert.  They compliment each other not just in the food and wine department but are life and business partners as well.  Canela Bistro has mastered the fine art of service and superb Spanish cuisine.  Elegant and graceful service is the cornerstone of any restaurant and combining both local and Spanish ingredients is evident.  Paco has assembled a well-edited Spanish wine list.  In northern California, Northern California wines often outpace wine lists from other regions but at Canela Spanish wines are the star.  Not just wines from the usual suspects of Rioja, Rias Baixas or Priorat but Reuda, Ribera del Duero, Campo de Borja and Cariñena.

Mat is most comfortable not just directing his food but loves to be making food.  While many chefs are busy in the office Mat enjoys and prefers cooking.  Mat has a great link to Spanish cuisine–Paco’s mother.  Paco’s mother has passed many glorious recipes to him and through experience Mat has perfected each dish.   I asked about what patrons want and expect in Spanish cuisine and Mat said that Bay Area residents like heat in their cuisine and sometimes expect that in Spanish cuisine.  It is hard to imagine for some that Spanish cuisine is not like Mexican food.  If you look at other Latin American cuisine they are not based on a hot and spicy canon.

Mat and Paco love their neighbourhood bistro; a rare address of Market Street is easily accessed; and I love coming into this comfortable zone from a busy main street in San Francisco.   Mat strives to keep on his game to present the best of Spain in San Francisco and wants the world class always to shine here.  Mat often utilizes Tempranillo in many of his dishes thus reinforcing the Spanish through and through approach.

I tasted the following dishes with Paco and Mat:

  • Tortilla Española
  • Gambas
  • Patatas Bravas
  • Lamb Skewers
  • A selection of Jamon Serrano, Chorizo and Manchego

Tortilla Espanola

20140206_184228 20140206_192305 20140206_192311 20140206_193240

Each dish was well executed and beautifully plated; the Gambas and Lamb skewers were superbly fresh.  The portions were larger than I expected.  Canela is a place to share each plate with your guests to get the full allotment of flavour discoveries.

The Spanish wines are very well selected and the servers are well educated in picking up what each patron is seeking and suggested wines to fully express and optimize with the foods selected.

A great experience and one that I will have a repeat visit.

¡Buen provecho y Salud!

James Melendez

James the Wine Guy


Canela Bistro

2272 Market Street

San Francisco, CA  94114

415 552 3300







Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:



About James Melendez

I have two blogs on this descriptor page--I use to be able to make separate. My fragrance blog is to express my thoughts on fragrance. A passion in addition to wine. I think it is a stellar component to the senses and that which I am in love with. I hope you like both blogs. My "wine" blog also incorporates those categories intimately involved - wine, food, travel and lifestyle. We all need food and water to survive but we need wine to nourish our soul. My favourite varietals are Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Syrah-Shiraz.. for my red wines. And I often circle back to these varieties and sometimes they are my home varieties. The journey of wine is an historical footnote also marked by viti-viniculture and artistry that makes this beverage a living one. I have worked professionally in the wine trade and have loved all aspects; marketing, history, science and art of wine. © 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.
This entry was posted in Restaurants, San Francisco, Spanish Food & Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s