Cala

4.6
610 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 Insiders Are Saying

The Infatuation
8.6

The seafood and vegetable-focused Mexican food at Cala is some of the best in San Francisco.

Ratings 8.5-9.0:Now we’re in the range of absolutely excellent restaurants that you might go to more than once a year/lifetime. These restaurants tend to define a city, and make up the places that you absolutely cannot miss if you want to have any credibility as a restaurant-informed person in a major metropolis.
What 610 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
4.5
service
4.6
ambience
3.9
value
Noise · Moderate
83% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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GZ
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Contemporary take on traditional flavors . Some people might not like the small portions, but I see it as an opportunity to try more dishes.

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Q
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Simply AMAZING. Authentic Mexican and healthy. Professional and polite wait staff. Get a reservation, grab a friend and ENJOY. Try the Mezcal Margarita!

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j
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 2

Horrible service, overpriced, and 25% mandatory tip. I'll never return, and I'll never recommend.

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LL
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 2food 3service 2ambience 3

Lackadaisical service. Food too expensive for what it was. Have eaten at Contramar (the chef's Mexico City restaurant, which was a hundred times better. And much better value, so it may be worth flying there and having lunch there.

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PB
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 3food 5service 5ambience 2

Best Mexican food I have ever had but SF was 95 degrees that day and Cala has no A/C so there we were in formal attire for the opera, sitting in a pool of sweat in the 95 degree restaurant

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MS
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 3

Extremely expensive for what it offers.
Food is nothing special. The tamale awful, the sweet potato with bone marrow the same.
Never again.

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PL
Denver
57 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

The menu is a great read- for only 2 people choosing was hard. I down rated a little because we ordered for one of our first courses what we thought would be a mushroom quesadilla appetizer and got what looked and tasted like rather leaden empanadas instead- took extra care of the fat and carb part of the menu! Closer questioning of waitstaff would have resolved that I suspect. Perhaps because the tip is built into the bill, the waitstaff played hard ball with food and drink and we were encouraged to order more food than we needed. We avoided most of the alcoholic blandishments and the sugary drinks but had to say no a lot. In general though the food is excellent and if you know the drill and what you want you can dine well and probably less expensively than we did- by not over ordering and convincing the staff that no thank you means no —not now not ever.

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JB
New York Area
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

GREAT Drinks- the trout was too fattty- the sweet potato was AMAZING. Main call out - it was a VERY hot day and even hotter in the restaurant- forced me to get that 2nd delicious mezcal drink.

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LT
New York Area
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food, great service. Everyone was knowlegable and ready to help.

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KC
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Special occasion upscale Mexican restaurant.
I'm from Mexico City and I can tell this is as authentic as any restaurant in CDMX.
Love the food and service.
K

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JC
New York Area
1 review
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 4

Great in general but I'd expect more for that price range and mandatory 20% gratuity.

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C
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic experience all around.

The food was delicious, well prepared, authentic Mexican with the proper sophistication.

Servers were professional, polite and helpful ( without being pushy ).

Wholeheartedly recommend.

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S
Kansas City
3 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

If I had it to do over I’d have a drink and the squid plate at the bar and leave dinner to somewhere else. Good food but so pricey and was only super impressed with the squid and the mezcal margarita.

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ES
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 5

We ordered the caviar sopes ($38.) what arrived was two tiny sopes with barely a schmear of
of caviar. Ridiculous. Then we ordered the squid dish which should have been callid a potato
dish with a sprinkling of squid. The food was delicious but portions so small the menu should
be called a children's menu.

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JM
San Francisco
50 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Please change you plate sizes. Juggling dishes and glasses on the table really detracts from dinner. I would suggest bigger tables but the room is already very crowded and I assume the number of tables is based on profit/loss issues.

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JJ
San Francisco
39 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It’s difficult not to review this restaurant without using superlatives, but this may have been some of the “best” food I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Tucked away behind an unassuming building facade, the dining experience inside I would rank among the top restaurants in the world. The staff was very friendly and professional, the ambiance was a chic industrial setting, and the food plating and presentation and taste were impressive. The cocktail and food menus were well curated, but the standout dishes for our table were the abalone tostadas, grilled oysters, the sweet potato with bone marrow mole, and the black cod. In short, I would highly recommend Cala for a special dinner.

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JM
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Expensive restaurant serving gourmet Mexican food. Great service, if over attentive. (e.g., they kept trying to take away our plates and wine glasses, even though we weren't finished.) Seems to cater to the young tech worker crowd.)

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OT
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on June 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We eat out frequently and aren’t easily impressed. We lived every thing about this restaurant. Delicious and somewhat unusual food and drinks, wonderful service. It is a bit pricey but you get what you pay for.

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

Great service! Staff very knowledgeable of menu/drinks. Food was amazing.

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OT
1 review
Dined on June 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excelente lugar para probar comida mexicana revolucionada. La atención impecable, un must cuando se esté en San Francisco.

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MM
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on June 2, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Great mexican restaurant, not the classic food but a great modern seafood twist. Excellent decoration. The oysters were superb! A must in San Francisco!

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m
San Francisco
38 reviews
Dined on June 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

The food is so good and so unique here as is the service. We had just seen the documentary on this restaurant and her other restaurant in Mexico City, so we were happy to be there. Not our first time. We enjoyed everything about it. Loved my drink too with mezcal.....really smokey and good! Would recommend this restaurant to anyone who love good innovative food!

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MS
1 review
Dined on May 31, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very good ambiance, everyone one was super attentive.

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AR
San Francisco
20 reviews
Dined on May 31, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

CALA IS A LOT OF FUN! The food is great the ambiance is terrific and the servers are most friendly and work hard to please everyone. All very much appreciated!

Lydia Titcomb

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JL
Amarillo
1 review
Dined on May 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Quite possibly the best meal of my life. Our bartender, Orlando, walked us through everything we asked about on the menu and was very helpful with drinks. Words cannot do this place justice. It was an incredible experience and we will always remember it.

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a
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on May 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Thoroughly enjoyed it

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LC
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on May 29, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 3

Food and ambience were good. Drinks were amazing. Service was on the slow side. They were packed, and we were at the communal table but our server was struggling to keep up.

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A
Central Coast
19 reviews
Dined on May 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Been here many times. This last time was just great. Food was fantastic and the ambiance for a group was really wonderful

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GE
Tahoe
5 reviews
Dined on May 27, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

I Highly recommend Cala. It has an amazing variety of dishes and mescales. I enjoyed everything we ordered including the trout tostadas, which I surprisingly loved. Will definitely come back.

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JB
San Diego
1 review
Dined on May 26, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 1ambience 4

Service was poor. We were given a 9:30 reservation and told we needed to order right away as the kitchen was closing despite being there early. Please don't take 9:30 reservations if you can't properly care for us. Then hardly saw our server and had to stop other staff to help.

Roasted sweet potato with bone marrow was so good. All our dishes were all well done and creative.

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SR
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on May 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The ambiance and decor is elegant, vibrant and fun. We enjoyed meeting people on the high top table. The server was very accommodating. The food had many interesting sauces.Since our reservation was 9;30 PM ; THEY WERE OUT OF MANY DISHES. i GUESS THE KEY IS TO GO EARLIER , IF YOU CAN. The misto fried fish was our favorite. It was a very favorable evening, even if the prices were high.

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C
1 review
Dined on May 26, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Our experience at Cala was amazing! Only okay part was when we walked in the hostess wasn’t the friendliest or most welcoming. She didn’t greet us I had to be the one to start the conversation, I almost felt like I was the employee there. Other than that, everyone was awesome! Waitress was super amazing, made great recommendations and was very patient with us as it was our first time here.

We started off with pepino mezcal drinks which were amazing! Definitely would recommend.

We ordered 3 appetizers and my favorite were the raw oysters! Probably the best I’ve had so far! We also had the fish ceviche which was good, but not the best I’ve had.

All in all, it was a great experience, staff and food were great! I will definitely be returning!

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SB
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Beautiful food, extremely helpful and attentive waitstaff, wonderful meal.

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JT
1 review
Dined on May 25, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was delicious but honestly, we were expecting traditional Mexican portion sizes. Service was great and so were the drinks.

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s
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on May 25, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

definitely a foodie experience. cocktails are made with mezcal, so be sure you like mezcal before ordering.

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LM
1 review
Dined on May 25, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

We loved the food and loved the atmosphere...and we would recommend to a friend, but only one who has deeper pockets. For just the two of us, our waitress recommended we order 3-4 small plate appetizers and two entrees, a total of 5-6 plates to be shared. We are glad we decided to steer clear of her rec...We ended up ordering just 3 apps and just one entree, all to share, and we were more than satisfied with that! The appetizers (esp. the crab tostadas), were tasty but small, but allowed us to really enjoy the wonderful flavors. The entree was delish but also on the small side. With one cocktail each + the required gratuity + SF living wage (adding up to 25%) our bill for two was $191. Special place, but you'll pay for it.

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JS
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 24, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful experience, delicious food. Perfect for a special occasion.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Pre show dinner!

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s
Washington DC
19 reviews
Dined on May 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Food preparations were very unique and tasty - highly recommend the abalone tostados, opah, and sweet potatoes. Mezcal cocktails were very good. Our waitress was very attentive throughout the meal.

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T
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on May 21, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 2ambience 5

In the old days when dinosaurs roamed the earth cocktails appeared in an instant. When ordering a cocktail I expect it to arrive well the meal. Our meal began to arrive so I asked the waiter a 3rd time about the drinks. He replied "the bar is backed up". I replied "I don't want an excuse I want a cocktail".

Delicious cuisine, a delightful and accommodating host staff, and I suggest the manager show the young waiters a Thin Man movie with Myrna Loy and William Powell.

Yours,

T. rex

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