Cala

4.6
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753 Reviews
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$31 to $50
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Mexican
CALA is an upscale Mexican eatery with a delightfully inventive menu that leans heavily towards seafood. Recent standout dishes at CALA include Dungeness crab tostadas and local bay shrimp tacos. The plating is always exquisite and the atmosphere is energetic. Unwind in the evening with sangria, mezcal margarita or other cocktails. Vegetarians will love the sopes playeros with the midnight black beans. Desserts like coconut flan or chocolate ice cream with palanqueta have finished meals off on just the right note. Reservations are recommended, though walk-ins are quite welcome.

If you are looking for a quick bite during lunch, Tacos CALA uses the restaurant's Hickory Street back alley entrance to serve affordable Mexico City-style tacos with rice and beans Monday - Friday, 11am - 2pm.
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What 753 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.6based on recent ratings
4.6
food
4.6
service
4.6
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
84% of people would recommend it to a friend
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JS
New England
16 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Fresh, creative and delicious with great service

EN
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Excellent attention to service. Small portions served.

e
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food is amazing! I still can’t stop thinking about that meal! Definitely recommend!

OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 1food 2service 2ambience 3

$87 for two appetizers and a drink. The food was just ok. Mandatory 20% even though the service was mediocre at best. Not worth it!

RG
Central Coast
5 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We have eaten many times at Contramar in Mexico City and this sister restaurant is a nice addition to the SF good scene. Very interesting food and great cocktails.

DL
Boise
1 review
Dined on September 10, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 3

Service was terribly slow.
2 of the 5 dishes that we ordered were good.
3 were not.

CJ
New England
2 reviews
Dined on September 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Cala is a restaurant that lives up to the hype. Delicious food and very friendly, knowledgeable staff. We will definitely go back.

DJ
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on September 8, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

Some food is excellent, like the trout tostados, and squid entree; but the avocado tostados was nothing much more than smashed avocado on a tortilla for $21!!!! Absurd!, it was nothing better than an avocado toast, usually $5.00 but that at least has sea salt & a drizzle of olive oil!!!! And, they were out of many wines, which the waitress did not inform us beforehand. So we kept choosing ones they were out of! Why have them still on the menu. Very disappointing evening in terms of some food and the bottle of wine, although the company and ambience was superb!

LB
Portland
7 reviews
Dined on September 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always amazing meal, great service, and fun to do for a birthday!

m
Central Coast
31 reviews
Dined on September 7, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

We were having dinner before a show. We were greeted warmly at the door and seated promptly. We sat for 5-10 minutes before a server came by and took our drink order. Drinks were delicious and well presented. Food was good. Some dishes were more of a standout than others. The trees leaches cake was delicious and appealed to us as we dont like sweet desserts. It was deafening in the room by 7pm. Seafood is well executed and fresh here and our meal was paced with no more than 2 dishes on the table at a time. A 20% service charge is added to your bill as s standard practise.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

It’s not cheap but everything on the menu is incredible.

OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on September 6, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

We enjoyed Cala, pre-opera, very much. The setting is a redeveloped auto shop/warehouse, very nicely done but a bit noisy due to the hard surfaces. Cala is very well located for symphony, Jazz Museum, Herbst, etc. The tapas-style dinner offerings were unique, tasty, and well-presented. Service was quite good, and prices reasonable for an upscale restaurant, with mandatory 20% tip (standard percentage in SF). We will definitely return.

k
London
62 reviews
Dined on September 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Very innovative upscale Mexican tapas restaurant. I would certainly return

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 5, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Great food. Pretty slow service

OT
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on September 4, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Food wasn’t bad. Just wasn’t worth the price. It seemed to be very “safe” and far from bold.

OT
Atlanta
1 review
Dined on September 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Second time there and both times were nothing short of amazing!

MW
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on September 4, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 3

We came to Cala to celebrate friendships . We sat down ,excited to see each other and looking forward to a delicious meal. The food was good and our waiter was very nice. However we immediately felt we needed to hurry up and order right when we sat down . I explained we had not seen each other and we wanted to chat and discuss the menu.
The drinks we ordered took around 30 minutes to arrive. Then they were not correct. It was a frustrating experience.
I’m sure it’s not always this way . We were a bit disappointed.
It was our experience and it is probably unique to us.

MS
1 review
Dined on September 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great for an evening out - but little light on the portions

s
San Francisco
17 reviews
Dined on September 4, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Food was just OK and very over-priced. Unfortunately, it doesn't compare to its sister restaurant Contramar.

NR
San Francisco
22 reviews
Dined on September 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything is delicious! From cocktails to dishes to dessert, you can't go wrong.

AM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 3, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 2ambience 5

I would recommend Cala to my friends who are willing to throw down $150/person (including tip and 1 drink). The food was great, ambiance is wonderful, service was OK - server was not that friendly and seemed overwhelmed and very quick to take our orders, deliver our food and take our orders, felt a bit rushed. The bill then came and could not believe it was $150/each. It's a shame b/c it's not a place I will frequent due to price.

OT
Orlando
4 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We enjoyed all the dishes we tried. All were excellent. Service was excellent.

D
Cleveland
4 reviews
Dined on August 31, 2019
Overall 2food 1service 3ambience 4

The first server did not understand that we wanted bottled water. We asked for sparkling but another waiter came to confirm our order.

It was our first time at the restaurant but we had wathched a documentary about the restaurant. We asked for recommendations from the menu but were not originally told that only two tostados came with each order. We were a party of three and subsequently had to pay for 3 tostadas for each type in order to share! The only thing that was worth the cost was the Camaronillas. We had Dungeness Crab Tostadas, Avocado Tostadas, Sopes Playeros, Pork Tamal, Sweet Potato Tacos and a Tres Leches cake.

The Sweet Potato Taco was by far the worst dish. It was charred black and definitely not worth the $23 we were charged. The waiter told us to try the burnt skin...It was inedible!

B
1 review
Dined on August 31, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic food. Every single plate we tried was flavorful. The service was outstanding. Highly recommend this unique experience. One of the highlights of our trip to San Francisco.

g
San Francisco
19 reviews
Dined on August 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The best as always.

CN
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A must-visit! Check out "A Tale of Two Kitchens" on Netflix before dining at Cala!!

AK
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on August 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Food was great, and servers were very nice. We had a variety of fish and veggie dishes and all were delicious. Will have to return to taste more!

Y
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 28, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 4

Our meal at Cala was lovely. We were there for a casual celebration of my husband's birthday and were seated quickly at the communal table (we'd made a reservation). All the dishes we ordered were fresh, beautiful, and delightful.

I suspect something happened on the service side partway through the evening, because once we finished our meal we had a really hard time flagging down a server (or anyone) to bring our check. You know when people walk by super fast and pretend not to hear or see you? Also noticed this happening to diners around us, trying hard to get their checks or getting food they'd ordered before we had even begun eating. In fact someone only came by to check on our empty drinks about 75 min into the meal. Bizarre. I almost walked up to the hostess stand, but restrained myself. The restaurant must've been slammed. It took us 30+ min to get our check in the end when we finally grabbed someone working the other side of the room who didn't quite have her guard fully up as she went by to the kitchen.

This put a real damper on the end of the meal and the evening and we just went directly home. I get that things happen, maybe they didn't have enough coverage unexpectedly, but it was also pretty bad experience for us. Also a 20% gratuity (+ 5% health tax) is automatically included. In principle I support that but that 20% really grates, given our experience of the service.

SM
1 review
Dined on August 27, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 2

Two of the dishes we ordered were pretty good- the frito misto okay and the fideo seco excellent. The Dungeness crab tostadas were really salty and just tasteless. Overall too expensive for the quality of the food. The service was poor. One of the servers actually kept reaching in front of one of the women in our party to fill the water glasses. Obviously not trained properly. Also we felt rushed and felt that some of the waitstaff just wanted us to leave! Overall not a good experience.

J
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on August 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food and a unique experience in San Francisco!

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CL
1 review
Dined on August 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We will definitely be back to Cala in the near future. It was amazing. We've been to Contra Mar (Mexico City) twice and Cala is just as wonderful.

GF
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 24, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

I thought the Cod entree was really tasty. The dungeness crab appetizer was very bland for crab, I usually think of crab as being quite rich and savory but this was almost without taste. I liked the other appetizers quite a bit. At one point I ordered a second drink at it took almost 15 minutes and two arrived of the same drink within a minute of each other. When I told them it was already delivered, they said it was my lucky night and to have the third drink on the house. When the bill arrived they charged me for all three drinks. So it was a mixed experience. I thought it was very good, overpriced and the service was at times very good, then non-existent.

s
San Francisco
27 reviews
Dined on August 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was a return visit for my out-of-town guest and me. We both look forward to dinner here, and have included it on most of her visits to the Bay Area. We always start with the trout tostadas, but then try some new things on the menu as well. This time, it was the wonderful grilled little gem lettuces with a lemony dressing and the perfectly done frito misto with a creamy ancho chile flavored dipping sauce. We finished with another dish we’ve had in the past - the fideo seco with little neck clams. Service was, as always, attentive but not intrusive.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Cala is my favorite restaurant in San Francisco. Whenever friends or family visit town, this is where I take them!

PB
1 review
Dined on August 20, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 3

Only if they can seat at a table. The bar/communal table are horribly cramped. You cannot move your arms because the bar stools are literally right next to each other making very difficult to move your arms to cut /eat your food without hitting the person next to you. I kept moving my bar stool back but then the waiters could barely get around to serve the food. I will not return. The people next to me were also super cramped and we kept apologizing to each other for being in each others personal space. Too much!!! Take a few stools out and enhance the experience for future diners.

E
Orange County
1 review
Dined on August 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Amazing food, great place. Everything was delicious from the quesadilla to the caviar sopes!

S
New York Area
1 review
Dined on August 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Absolutely a fabulous place
Superb bar food service and ambiance
Bustling

R
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on August 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Absolutely fabulous, especially the oysters. Will definitely return and recommend highly

AB
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 5

Amazing service, great facilities, great ambiance, good food too but an avocado tostada for $20 is a bit much.

CM
1 review
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 3ambience 2

25% fees! Ooof Community table?
I get it...seafood...but not too much other

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