Cala

4.6
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803 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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Private Dining

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Specials

New Year's Eve Special Menus & Offers

Join us for New Year's Eve! We will be serving our standard CALA menu, as well as, featured specials for the evening. We require a credit card to secure all NYE reservations. In the event of a no-show or cancellation with less than two days notice, the credit card will be charged $65 per person.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

What 803 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
4.5
service
4.6
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
88% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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LG
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall5food5service4ambience4

Great food tasty fresh amazing drinks

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Went on a Monday and the restaurant was pretty full. The drinks were really good and the food was as well. Overall great experience. Yes, the dishes are pricey. Don’t forget SF charged an extra 5% on top of your bill for some tax as well.

AN
Houston
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall4food4service4ambience3

Great food and do enjoy the story of Chef Gabriela. My one critic/advice would be regarding price. Most of the reviews mention the same topic and now I see why. The food is amazing and zero complaints about the freshness. However...does it make sense to sell 1 Pork Tamal for $22? Maybe, but chances are someone will definitely have a negative view of the overall experience around this kind of food options. So many amazing ingredients to choose from in Mexican cuisine, especially in California!
Huge fan of Contramar!
Lastly; the HOST should NEVER ask someone trying to walk in the building whether or not he/she has a RSVP. Always let him in the building first and then ask...It was the back door, but I could have simply go around the block and walk in without a problem.

MR
San Francisco
32 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Love the host who always remembers us!

T
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food continues to be excellent, the service staff is attentive and knowledgable, and the room is lovely.

OT
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Lovely ambiance, food and drinks were delicious.

t
Seattle
9 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Anniversary dinner

g
San Francisco
44 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Creative Mexican cuisine with small plate approach. Good cocktails. Great servers. Go for taste experience not a quick meal.

YM
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on November 5, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Recommendations were spot on. Very tasty & a great evening. Creative approach to Mexican food.

b
Las Vegas
5 reviews
Dined on November 5, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Amazing flavors, everything was fresh and hand made...interesting combinations of ingredients...nothing too spicy but just right.

SS
1 review
Dined on November 4, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food was outstanding. The wait staff was attentive, knowledgeable and engaging.
The restaurant vibe was great. Highly recommended.

NA
1 review
Dined on November 4, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Took my Partner their for Her birthday. It had been our list of restaurants to try for some time... my expectations where that it would be good... it ended up being fantastic. One of my best experiences in a San Francisco Restaurant. Food/Service/Drinks 10/10.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 3, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Cala is amazing as always! Never disappointed! Friendly and professional staff, awesome environment , phenomenal ambiance. This restaurant is beautiful! I’m obsessed with the decor and everything about this place. Food is excellent, their new mushroom dish our server recommended was mind blowing. Easy plates for sharing. Everyone is super friendly. I’ve recently moved out of SF but always make it a point to dine with them. I’ve tried just about everything on this menu, the only downfall is they sometimes run out of their fish but that’s probably because I always make a reservation for towards the end of the night :-). Can’t wait until next time!

g
San Francisco
25 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Cala is one of the few restaurants where I cannot remember having ordered anything that failed to please, in multiple visits. The service is excellent, and while on the expensive side for us, it is probably our favorite restaurant.

s
San Francisco
22 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2019
Overall3food5service5ambience3

the dishes were tasty and creative. But the portions were small. Also the food was way overpriced. we won't be returning

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 3, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Great food, srakk, drinks

RT
San Francisco
26 reviews
Dined on October 30, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience4

as always the check arrived 10 minutes before we were required to rush to our show

PD
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on October 30, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Food, Service, and Ambiance are all outstanding. The only thing I wish they could improve on is getting rid of the number of flying insects in this establishment (used to be houseflys now it is mainly gnats). It is better than in years past, however it is annoying.

OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on October 27, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent. I recommend the sweet potato!

OT
Chicago
11 reviews
Dined on October 27, 2019
Overall4food5service5ambience4

Delicioso restaurante! Terrible que cobren el 20% de propina sin avisar y a eso le sumen tax... jamás había visto que la propina gravara impuesto!!! Terminaron siendo 70 dólares de impuestos y propina... además no me regresaron mi cambio porque para el mesero fue suficiente decir que reparte con los de la cocina, q si en verdad quería mi cambio??... entonces fueron cerca de 80 dólares que no fueron consumo y se quedaron! Muy raro...

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M
San Francisco
50 reviews
Dined on October 26, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

Creative, tasty Mexican food options. Portions are smallish. Taxes, required tip, SF fees amount to 35% of bill, which seems high. Total bill $70/person for a modest meal. Welcome to SF.

p
San Francisco
48 reviews
Dined on October 25, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience5

Really phenomenal food, inventive, cooked just right, great seasoning

Service very friendly but long period passed between my cocktail and a glass of wine as second drink ... no one was paying attention.

Interior space very nice, simple, pretty, relaxing...

R
San Francisco
88 reviews
Dined on October 20, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

This was my sixth visit to Cala, but this visit was the best with crab and mussel tamale and a fantastic bass to finish. Drinks were creative and excellent. Our server was involved just right through out the meal. A fantastic dining experience on a Sunday night.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 20, 2019
Overall3food5service1ambience4

I have eaten here many times and always loved it. Today I experienced the worst service - slow inattentive waiter, missing food, bill calculated incorrectly, credit card charged incorrectly - you name it. This level of service is not acceptable for any fine restaurant in San Francisco - especially one that charges an automatic 20% tip.

JM
Sacramento
2 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Amazing food! Bring friend so you can enjoy more dishes. Surprisingly affordable with high quality ingredients and a friendly staff.

CB
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2019
Overall3food5service1ambience5

Service was below average. Ordered cocktails twice and never received them. The waiter didn't take the time to explain the menu and offered zero value to our experience. We were extremely disappointed as we have only heard great things... unfortunately we cannot share the same sentiment.

DG
Central Coast
5 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2019
Overall3food3service5ambience3

We had a pre symphony dinner and the service was excellent and geared to us being on time. The wine was very good and a good sized glass, a little on the higher price side, but no real complaint. The food was tasty but small portions and very expensive. A small pork tamale was $21.00 and appetizers were very good but very high. When we got home from the symphony we had a snack because we were still hungry. No real problem here but I wouldn't suggest to friends to come here

F
Los Angeles
15 reviews
Dined on October 18, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Loved everything. Bright flavors, delicious combinations. Every dish was outstanding. We will be back.

RP
Philadelphia
14 reviews
Dined on October 17, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

What a wonderful evening. The meal, service and ambience were superb.

s
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 16, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food and cocktails.

D
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on October 12, 2019
Overall1food1service1ambience1

It took 50 minutes to get a few starters and then the server pressured us to order before the kitchen closed. The starters were disgusting and sent them back so had no reason to stay for dinner anyway. The server had no idea about mescal and gave me the opposite of what I wanted.

The crab tostadas is something a 9-year old would make. The kampachi was bland and took ages to get out of the kitchen.

We were totally ignored and this was a birthday dinner. I was embarrassed and now have to make it up again this weekend. After being forced to pay a 20% tip I will never go back and tell as many people as possible to avoid this place if they want good service and good food.

E
San Francisco
154 reviews
Dined on October 12, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

Very good food - loved the cactus salad. Everything very unique - only complaint is that while sharing is encouraged (or family style), portions were small and often each person got only a tidbit.

E
San Francisco
38 reviews
Dined on October 11, 2019
Overall4food5service3ambience3

It was our 4th visit here and food/drinks have always been outstanding. However on this visit, I had to give lower rating to service—despite being first customers seated at 5PM opening time, after restaurant began to fill up second round of cocktails came at end of meal—not mid meal as ordered. Also, unlike other visits at Cala, two members of our party were uncomfortably hot due to little/no air circulation in restaurant. One person in our group had to leave restaurant to go outside for air.

OT
Kansas City
1 review
Dined on October 6, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience4

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
16 reviews
Dined on October 4, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience4

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!

SF
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on October 4, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Always delicious and creative. I have introduced Cala to many friends.

OT
1 review
Dined on October 2, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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
Overall2food5service1ambience5

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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
Overall5food5service3ambience4

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.