Cala

4.6
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868 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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Specials

Valentine's Day Special Menus & More

Celebrate Valentine's Day here at CALA. We will be serving our regular dinner menu, including some specials and celebratory drinks. 48 hour cancellation policy is $35 per person, please call the restaurant at 415 660 7701.

Friday, February 14, 2020

What 868 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
4.7
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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EV
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food4service5ambience5

It was my first time at a Mexical restaurant & we all really enjoyed the atmosphere & food. The drinks are spectacular & it’s an ideal place for a night out with friends.

OT
Richmond
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Had a wonderful experience celebrating a birthday here. The service was outstanding & food + drinks were perfect. It’s pricey but worth going for the experience and ambiance.

RP
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Afraid to recommend too highly for fear of not getting in next time. We sat at the bar--not a bad idea--and received smooth but not unctuous service including a valuable lesson in tequila. Food was outstanding--the fredo seco was a revelation (toasty pasta served with aioli and clams, you mix it all together); frito misto was the best I've ever had (light, perfectly fried); coconut flan was otherwordly if a bit sweeter than most flans. Only complaint (which turned out not to be an issue) is that despite a reservation we were not offered a table.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

I love the bartenders and wait staff!

BH
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Everything about Cala shines! Great, contemporary Mexican food. Warm, friendly staff. Pleasant, laid-back ambiance, even though it is a busy restaurant. The crab tostadas and the ling cod with pickled shallots were my favorites, but each dish was delicious, unique, appealingly presented, with a bit of a twist. We ate mostly small plates. Our waitperson was soooo helpful. Pricey but absolutely worth it!

RS
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on January 15, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Love this place!! Service is always incredibly amazing. Wish I could be best friends with every single person on their staff.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 15, 2020
Overall3food4service1ambience3

I made reservation 2 weeks ahead. Then 2 days before Open Table cancelled my reservation ( which I was very annoying! I called the restaurant 3 tines to find someone. I made another reservation for 7:45. We got there at 7:35 and we did not get seated until 8:20!! Our waitress was VERY inattentive! The time between our appetizers and entres was about 30minutes! Unacceptable! The price tag was way too high and gratuity was automatically added at 20% which added to my annoyance since we could not do anything about the subpar service. They started to breakdown the tables as we were eating!! Overall? I would not go back there and I had couple food critics from NYC with me!

m
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great wait staff, creative menu, tasty meals, and inviting ambiance!

OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2020
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Really lovely, high end Mexican food. The seafood really shines here. Drinks, wine, dessert were all excellent, too. Very good service, lovely atmosphere, not too loud. I look forward to returning.

C
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 11, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We live on the SF Peninsula and this is our go to spot in SF. We bring guests from around the world to this wonderful little restaurant. The food is always delicious, the staff is attentive and the mood is always high. Our last experience was on my wife's birthday in mid-January. We came with our family of 7 and two relatives from outside the US. We sat at the community table and, perhaps to the chagrin of the restaurant, spent a long time there. Never once did we feel rushed and they got us everything we needed quickly. The drinks are unusual in their composition but everyone I drank was something I had not had before and good.

Go here. You won't regret it.

j
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on January 9, 2020
Overall3food1service5ambience5

Second time we’ve dined in the last 6 months and the menu and food is disappointing.
Nothing we choose has great taste- very bland.
We use to love dining at Cala with the early menus.
Will give this time to sort out and return if the menu changes because everything else about the restaurant is great!

k
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on January 8, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Every bite is amazing. You must have the trout tostadas and the sweet potato!

OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on January 7, 2020
Overall4food5service5ambience4

Great service. We were a part of 9 which would require a semi private room reservation, a prix-fixe menu and $1000 minimum. However, they accommodated us, last minute, in the regular dining area to allow us to order a-la carte. The food was great especially grilled oysters, rockfish, and the bay shrimp. It's pricey but it's worth your experience.

OT
1 review
Dined on January 7, 2020
Overall2food2service3ambience4

The best part of this experience was the ambiance. We had heard great things about the food - however we were quite disappointed. I don’t know if we ordered the wrong dishes or what but the sparse presentation with simple seasoning surely didn’t stand out. It was a high ticket dinner with minimum satisfaction. We did enjoy the mezcal margaritas. Better luck next tine if we decide to return - no decision yet.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 6, 2020
Overall3food5service2ambience3

I was there to celebrate my birthday. I was fairly excited, as I love Contramar in Mexico City. However, it was a subpar in comparison to the mother restaurant and even past visits to Cala. As soon as we entered, the host greeted us and promptly took our party of two to a table set for four that was right next to a server station. After asking for a different table as it was a celebratory evening, we were told that we couldn’t sit anywhere else because he was saving the other tables for a party of four and a “VIP to the restaurant.” After pointing out that our table could actually accommodate four and seat them there instead, he said, “they wouldn’t be as comfortable there.” I stood there absolutely astounded. As if growing older isn’t uncomfortable enough, nothing sets the tone worse for your own birthday celebration than being told that you are not important enough to be comfortable.

Management tried to salvage the night , but the ugly taste was in our mouths. That being said, the food had highs and lows. All three tostadas are still incredible, with the trout tostadas being a stellar knock out. They are on par with the standards of Contramar and true to the spirit of chef Cámara. Some of the other dishes didn’t shine as bright. We got 2 of the 3 sopes and the masa (or dough) had a great consistency and texture, but the fillings were a touch uninspired. The veggie ones were just over powered with too much black bean purée and the pork ones were just... too easy. A giant chunk of de facto carnitas is just trite and nothing you can’t get in the mission for 20 bucks cheaper. I would have liked to see a mole dry rub or sous vide with a cochinita pibil brine, an element of creativity. We ordered the mushroom quesadillas and were given what are clearly empanadas. But the worst dish was the tamale. The masa’s fat ratio is too high for the banana leaves they wrap them in, which tend to keep in moisture (compared to corn husks which can absorb it) and it was just mushy.

SP
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on January 6, 2020
Overall4food4service5ambience5

We thought the experience was very nice! The service, atmosphere, and drinks were all great, but we thought the food could have been a little better for the price. It was obviously all presented wonderfully, but was missing some of the flavor we were expecting. Very nice time though and the overall experience was still great.

J
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 5, 2020
Overall3food2service2ambience4

This restaurant is for people who enjoy interesting spicy flavors and can overlook the expense. Being that we were charged 25% extra on the total cost of the meal, made the experience less enjoyable. Since the waiters had no incentive for good service, we certainly didn't get any.

C
San Francisco
62 reviews
Dined on January 4, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Quickly becoming my favorite meal in San Francisco. I recommend dining with more than 2 people so you can enjoy more. We have been with a 4 top and most recently a 6 top. The more the better! We ordered a good portion of the menu. Everything was coursed nicely, shareable and of course delicious. Our service was spot on but not fussy. We felt casual, at home. This is such a fun spot to try some staples and something new. Highly highly recommend you also watch the Netflix short doc 'A Tale of Two Kitchens' before you dine. It will give you a whole new level of appreciation for an already wonderful restaurant. Thank you Cala! Can't wait until we dine again!

L
Tokyo
14 reviews
Dined on January 3, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great service. Yummy good.

MM
1 review
Dined on January 2, 2020
Overall2food4service3ambience3

Food was good but ridiculously expensive- drinks were expensive and nothing to get excited about

DR
1 review
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Rockfish was exquisite! Also purchased Gabriela Cámara's cookbook, and it is also fantastic (and signed)! Can't wait to try some dishes, and hope to get back again to Cala!

JR
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on December 30, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience5

Our only concern was the lack of attention from our server. He was totally present when he was present but we were unattended for too long when we were ready to order. Otherwise it was an exceptional dinner and prompted the purchase of your cookbook.

BA
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on December 30, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Pre-theater dining experience was fabulous! Staff were considerate of our departure time while not rushing our dining experience. Waiters recommendations were spot on. Personal favorites are trout tostadas, squid with potatoes and rockfish. Looking forward to the next visit!

j
Tahoe
1 review
Dined on December 29, 2019
Overall3food3service5ambience5

Nice place, but just too expensive for what you get. Way overpriced.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on December 29, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Family holiday celebration

OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2019
Overall3food3service2ambience3

A little disappointing!

K
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience3

We had dinner at Cala a few months after they opened at we were impressed, the food was as good as Camara’s Restaurants in Mexico City. This time the food was blah and the service average, not worth the cost$$$ 😒

OT
Mexico City
2 reviews
Dined on December 26, 2019
Overall2food3service3ambience2

Bueno , lindo lugar buen ambiente

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F
Seattle
16 reviews
Dined on December 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Had a great experience. Our waitress was great and the food was outstanding.

CC
San Francisco
36 reviews
Dined on December 22, 2019
Overall2food2service3ambience3

This was our first time at Cala’s. We have had friends recommend this high end Mexican restaurant for quite awhile. We thought this night would be a good opportunity to go as we had a SFJazz concert afterwards. We had a 5:30 reservation and needed to make a 7:00 concert. (Located down the block from Cala) . We made certain our wait staff knew of our times.
Before our visit we learned that the original chef had left - but that her recipes were all in tact for the staff to continue her food/preparations. Our meal was underwhelming - a hit or miss in the tastes. We liked the first course - the tostadas but the next two were not only small but lacked any taste - the mushroom quesadilla were hard and chewy.
Our dinner took so long to come that our waiter refilled our wine a bit as compensation for waiting.
We had no time for us to even see a dessert menu . And, we rushed to the concert to make it there just in time. Prices were very expensive for what you get. 25% was added at the end for each entree . We won’t return.

JL
San Francisco
19 reviews
Dined on December 20, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience5

Great fun, good food, attentive wait staff. Loved exploring mezcal-type alcohols of which I wasn't aware.

OT
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on December 20, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Birthday Celebrations 🎂

WB
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on December 19, 2019
Overall3food4service2ambience4

Service is a real problem and mandatory tipping at 20% is high, given the level of service.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 19, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It was great food, service and ambiance. Will definitely be back

OT
San Francisco
105 reviews
Dined on December 17, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food and cocktails and service, as always. Thank you!

OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on December 16, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Delicious and professional

C
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on December 15, 2019
Overall2food4service1ambience5

We made a 9:30 reservation but we were told at 9:45 that we had to rush and order. Everything felt rushed. The menu is a tiny bit complex and we had to coerce the server to tell us about the dishes. Food was very good. Atmosphere besutiful. It just put such a damper on our annual nutcracker Christmas dinner experience to feel so rushed. She told us we had five minutes to order!!

P
San Francisco
29 reviews
Dined on December 13, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Our meal at Cala was delicious as always-fresh and unique flavors prepared perfectly. We shared a hamachi ceviche, the crab tostadas, the bean hopes, and the Opa. Yum!!

BO
1 review
Dined on December 12, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

First time there so unfamiliar with the menu; waiter was great explaining items to us a d making recommendations!

MH
London
1 review
Dined on December 12, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience5

Achingly good food - a wonderful venue to take people you need to impress!