Canyon Road's favorite hangout just gets better and better. It's hard to please everyone, but El Farol works damn hard to do just that, with people-watching tables outside on the pretty front porch, a lively bar where flamenco dancers stomp on the wood plank floor, and three quiet dining rooms that allow you to focus on the fantastic food. Chef James Campbell Caruso seems to be enjoying his work more than ever these days, if the continually evolving and enticing food is any indication of the mood in the kitchen. A tapas craze has hit the nation over the past few years and this is one of the rare few restaurants that does the term justice. The small plates are littered with authentic Spanish ingredients like Marcona almonds (they're fried in oil!),

jamon Serrano

, fresh figs, Idiazabal (Basque sheep's milk cheese) and rich chorizo. If for some reason you forgo tapas for full-size entrées, you'll find them just as inviting. Caruso does something with lamb in an olive and fig tapenade that will have your belly bulging but begging for more.

808 Canyon Road, 983-9912.

Lunch and dinner daily. $$