Cala

4.6
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768 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 768 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
85% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
Kansas City
1 review
Dined on October 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

This place was recommended by @bytheway... We were in SF for a work trip but wanted to try a local’s place before we started meeting clients in the more touristy spots. We enjoyed sharing small plates: the biggest hit of the night was the sweet potato with bone marrow and sea salt (and the mezcal margaritas). Buen provecho!

s
London
15 reviews
Dined on October 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

An exciting menu of medium to large plates that overdelivered! I genuinely enjoyed 10/10 dished that our table ordered. Among them, my least favorite was still excellent and the best (the nopal, with fava beans tomato, avocado, pepitas and cilantro pestowas) was such an adventure in flavor and texture it will stand out for a long time to come. The dining room is spacious and lofty, without feeling cold or austere. My only complaint all night is that I didn't find Cala sooner!

OT
1 review
Dined on October 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was a birthday. Although everything was amazing, we never got asked if it was a special occasion. I did add it in last minute to the reservation notes. At the end of the day, it did not make a difference. We had a fantastic time and the food was delicious.

KD
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on October 2, 2019
Overall 2food 5service 1ambience 5

I should preface that I loved the food, every dish was a delightful and I'm happy I finally got to taste their cuisine after passing by Cala nearly every day since its opened (I live in the neighborhood). However, there is something to be said of service and unfortunately, Cala missed the mark at every turn. It started with calling and leaving multiple messages requesting a change well over a week in advance, of which I never received a call back. I finally got a hold of someone the day of, just to tell me they could not accommodate our request. Second, when we arrived for our reservation there was no maitre'd to check us in for nearly 10 minutes. By the time someone arrived, they said we had passed the 15 minute "grace window" for our reservation and they would seat us as soon as possible, but we'd have to wait (keep in mind we were initially only 5 minutes late). We proceeded to wait for over 45 minutes till nearly 9 o'clock---for my guests and myself, this was incredibly disappointing as we had been looking forward to this night and it was to celebrate my 30th birthday. When we were finally seated, we went through FIVE waiters, none of whom announced any change in staff (I saw one of our waiters in street clothes chatting with the staff before he left right in front of us). By the time we got up to leave, the staff was practically standing over us waiting to turn the table and close up---which could have been avoided, I think, if we'd been seated the full hour before, when we'd made our reservation. I did not feel welcome.

I'm a patient person and am willing to forgive many faults when service is spotty---I worked in restaurants and know when the staff is "in the weeds". But I had specifically chosen this place as a special occasion, and by the end there were too many egregious errors in service for me to consider coming back. It's very unfortunate, as the courses we had were lovely and I had so looked forward to the experience.

OT
Houston
1 review
Dined on September 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Surprise bday - staff was unbelievably helpful and worked super hard to make this surprise perfect even though we planned it last minute! They put us in a special private room without asking and gave us free mezcal shots and were overall incredible. 10 stars! Plus the food was unreal! So good

SR
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 4

Fantastic food, brilliant drinks, service was a bit uneven. Drink order was never put in and one of our parties napkins was dirty with old crusty food. Overall the experience was positive and we would go back.

A
Orange County
5 reviews
Dined on September 24, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Daughter’s 21st birthday

RW
New York Area
9 reviews
Dined on September 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Exceptional food, great staff - friendly, knowledgable and just the right amount of attentive. Great mezcal and a medium energy environment.

OT
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on September 20, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 3

Overpriced tostadas and Mexican food.
Have been to Contramar in Mexico City and Cala does not even come close.

Signature dish is the trout tostadas.. we found the fish to be super chewy and stringy... which is quite strange.

C
1 review
Dined on September 20, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Best Mexican food I’ve had in a while. Service was perfect. The drinks were amazing. And the fiddly fig tree in the restaurant is pretty cool.

SA
Melbourne / VIC
5 reviews
Dined on September 20, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Overrated and rushed. I’ve had Better Mexican in other places for sure.

MA
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on September 19, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

Sat at the communal table which is over crowded. The seats are too close together. Food was ok. Not really worth the price and not as authentic mexican fusion as I was hoping to be and the portions for the price are extremely small. I’ve been to Mexico City many times and Pujol has a better flavor profile of food at a better value. Cocktails were good though.

KM
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on September 17, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious, great drinks, wonderful service and beautiful !

JS
New England
16 reviews
Dined on September 16, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Fresh, creative and delicious with great service

EN
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Excellent attention to service. Small portions served.

e
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

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

MH
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Fantastic!

KC
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food and service, beautiful dining room, and couples are seated at individual tables rather than banquette seating, which makes it possible to have a dinnertime conversation. This is a rarity at San Francisco restaurants of this caliber.

OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on September 13, 2019
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
6 reviews
Dined on September 12, 2019
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
32 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
4 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.

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