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Best Tapas/Small Plates: Just a snack. Uh-huh 

Fonda

Small-plates menus are such a trap, we tell you. A trap! We keep dropping by Fonda for caipirinhas and "just a snack." But after one plate of David Rosales' ceviche with blood oranges and olives or his mushroom quesadillas, we're looking over the menu again, trying to decide whether we don't need a little something extra. Rosales plays with the cuisines of Latin and South America, and comes up with dishes whose roots are traditional but whose taste is anything but. You can get out of Fonda cheap with chips and guacamole, refritos, and Negro Modelo. Or shoot for the triple-digits with a dozen oysters, pork loin with pasilla salsa, lamb riblets with molé sauce, and a bottle of top-notch Argentine Malbec. Just be warned: Unless you have the willpower of a samurai, you probably won't be able to leave without a buzz and a swollen belly.

Readers' Pick: César 1515 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-883-0222 www.barcesar.com

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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