Cala

4.6
385 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.

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 every day from 11 am - 2 pm. Unwind in the evening with Cala's sangria, mezcal margarita or other cocktails. Vegetarians will love the sopes playeros with the restaurant's "midnight" black beans. Past 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.
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Private dining
Dining Style
Elegant Dining
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Cuisines
Mexican, Contemporary Mexican, Seafood
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Hours of operation
Dinner:
Monday–Wednesday, Sunday 5:00 pm–10:00 pm
Thursday–Saturday, 5:00 pm–11:00 pm
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Phone number
(415) 660-7701
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Smart Casual
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Executive chef
Gabriela Cámara
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Catering
Cala & Tacos Cala offer catering on a limited basis. Please inquire through events@calarestaurant.com.
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Cross street
Street Parking
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Public transit
3 blocks from Civic Center BART
Additional
Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cocktails, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking, Private Room, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Private Dining

We have two large group dining options: a communal table for 13-20 guests in the bar area of the dining room or a smaller communal table for 9-12 guests in our private dining room. These seated dinners are served family style and consist of a set four-course meal with an individually plated dessert.

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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 385 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
4.5
food
4.5
service
4.6
ambience
3.9
value
Noise · Moderate
85% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
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OT
Denver
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always a fabulous dining experience!! Delicious food, great atmosphere, kind staff, Cala you never disappoint!!

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T
San Francisco
23 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Delightful fun venue for really creative and flavorful Mexican inspired culinary experience nearby concert venues with a wait staff that is very attentive friendly and non pretentious. Special assistance with deciphering the menu and accommodating dietary restrictions was most appreciated.

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NA
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

IT was amazing. The menu is very special. I had a wonderful time. I feels our dinner was perfect.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 4food 5service 2ambience 3

Ordering was rushed by waiter....explanations of menu items could have been clearer.

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OT
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 3service 4ambience 5

Cocktails were delicious but the food was so so...

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OT
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on November 12, 2018
Overall 1food 5service 1ambience 5

The service was absolutely terrible. The stellar food couldn’t make up for how bad the service was and wouldn’t bring me back in. The service was so bad that even though my boyfriend and I never complained, the waiter apologized mid-way through the meal for the lack of service AND THEN offered ONLY my boyfriend another glass of wine on the house (I too was drinking wine). I felt completely overlooked for being a woman - so unacceptable and offensive.
I’ve eaten at many nice restaurants (go check out my instagram @major_league_eats for some great bites!) and have never felt so offended and disappointed in the service.

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L
San Francisco
20 reviews
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always a delight to dine at Cala--food is extraordinary, service is right on, intelligent, and pleasant---drinks are a great mixture of flavors---and the all inclusive nature means the bill is the bill. No other anxieties.

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LL
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food, carefully prepared. This is not your same-old-predictable menu of Mexican dishes.There were fresh flavors and high-quality ingredients in everything we ordered. The waiter was informative, helpful, efficient and friendly. I loved the trout tostadas, the camaronillas, and the sopes playeros. The chocolate ice cream was to die for. Pricey, but worth it.

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SS
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 10, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 4

They asked us to get up the minute after we paid the billy I accommodate the next reservation — we still had nearly full cocktails and we hadn’t overstayed our welcome (we only sat 1.5 hours earlier). Felt a bit weird after spending so much $$ on a nice meal.

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ES
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on November 10, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Service was wonderful. The staff is very well versed in the menu and made fantastic recommendations, when asked, for both food and drinks. We sat at the hightop which is a communal dining table with other patrons. It was a little tight, but the food and service overshadowed that. It is noisy, but not in an intrusive way. I sat next to my friend (not across) and we were able to hear one another without problems.

The standout at this restaurant is the seafood. We had the trout tostados (I bit too much trout on them, very large for an appetizer), sopes playeros w/ black beans, crema & ricotta salata (my 2nd favorite dish of the night), Bay shrimp tacos, and the absolute standout of the evening, the rockfish a la talla, which serves 2. The rockfish was perfectly sliced and grilled. One side was an adobo based seasoning, the other side was parsley based. It was light, flaky, and succulent.

Overall, a wonderful evening and I will definitely return.

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A
San Francisco
42 reviews
Dined on November 10, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 5

We ordered a variety of small plates and two entrees all to share amongst 4 of us. Overall, it was very expensive for tiny portions of pretty good, not all-that interesting food. The ceviche on tostados were very good, we had the trout and one other. The trumpet mushrooms were the biggest disappointment, just tasteless and boring. The caviar dish was good if you enjoy caviar. For entrees, The noodle dish with mussels was pretty good as was the cod that came in a tasty sauce and served with tortillas. But nothing was amazing. I did expect at least a couple of things to be amazing given the price point. The room is beautiful, and they have managed to keep the noise absorbed so you can actually hear the conversation at your table!! I might be back for a drink and snack but probably not for a whole meal.

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OT
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on November 9, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

The fish, both halibut and black cod were excellent - -however, the serving sizes were very small. The romanesque salad was made with peppers so hot I could not eat them - what I would expect in an authentic Thai restaurant, but not what I expected or was warned about at Cala.

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RS
San Francisco
101 reviews
Dined on November 9, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 2ambience 4

We went to Cala before a concert at SF Jazz (which is only about 1/2 a block away). The food was generally good; fresh and tasty--we ordered ceviche, sopes, pork tamale, and halibut. We allowed a little more than an hour for the meal. The food came out one by one. When we finished the 2nd dish, we began to worry that time wasn't working with us. We got the third dish and asked for the check so we wouldn't be delayed. As we waited for the final dish; we had to ask that they wrap it to go, so we wouldn't be late. We were told that the halibut had been dropped on its way from the kitchen, so we had to accept a credit adjustment on the bill. It was an odd occurrence, possibly we did not allow sufficient time--I admit the restaurant was really crowded, so that may have been a factor. We will probably try the restaurant again and see how that experience compares. It did not leave the best impression for our first visit here.

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p
Miami
1 review
Dined on November 9, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of my favorites in San Francisco... the sweet potato is epic

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OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on November 6, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent service and food as always

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B
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on November 5, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great creative food. Truly exceptional quality Mexican gourmet cousine, with California touch.
Pricing a bit high.

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OT
Minneapolis
1 review
Dined on November 5, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 5

Grilled oysters were no bueno.

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DA
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on November 4, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

We were really looking forward to Cala and made reservations 6 weeks in advance with 2 friends who'd also tried to get in there before unsuccessfully.

When we arrived we were greeted nicely, but the one person who arrived early was directed to a disorganized bartender to get a glass of wine which took a long time (and he didn't know the wines at all), for a total of $16 for a mediocre glass of white wine.

Our waitress was very good and interacted with and advised us well.

There were lots of wait staff to bring dishes when they were ready, which was appreciated.

However, the waitress did upsell things a bit.

When we got our bill, it was nearly $400 for 4 people, 2 drinks each, 3 small plates, 2 big plates, and 2 desserts. Seems very high for the portions you get.

The other issue is that they organize the menu according to hot and cold options and the cold options just really don't seem worth the price. Also, the grilled Romaine with beans was a just a joke.

I don't think we'll be back because the tastiness of the food was just not worth the price.

The things we liked were the trout tostadas and the small quesadillas.

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C
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

OUTSTANDING food and service. Highly recommend the trout tostadas.

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OT
Dallas
4 reviews
Dined on October 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great place! Truly an enjoyable experience ! The service was fantastic.

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OT
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on October 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Great cocktails. Food was outstanding, especially the charred sweet potato with bone marrow. Highly recommend!

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r
1 review
Dined on October 29, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 5ambience 3

service was great, helpful. food quality was just ok and not great for the cost.

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OT
Philadelphia
1 review
Dined on October 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The besttttt

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RO
San Francisco
27 reviews
Dined on October 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Creative, well prepared food. Attentive service.

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MP
Tampa
1 review
Dined on October 24, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 3

Food was a little too over-the-top for my taste, small portions, just not what I expected.

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Z
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on October 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food is absolutely phenomenal , the service excellent and the atmosphere stylish and fun. Highly recommend!

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S
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 24, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

We will be back. Very interesting dishes. A bit noisy.

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N
New York Area
17 reviews
Dined on October 23, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious meal and fabulous service. I believe Adrien was our wait person. He was excellent and so friendly.

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j
Seattle
66 reviews
Dined on October 22, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Very over rated, the place was nice if a bit crowded, food was only so so, fish was way overcooked, items were a bit too much alike, there is something not quite right about this place....

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C
San Francisco
44 reviews
Dined on October 20, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was our third time at Cala, and never disappointing. We ordered different dishes than the two previous orders.
I have to say that their Gin'n Tonic is amazing.
Their Salsa Verde is the best I have tasted in a long time.
I love their no tip policy because they pay a decent living wage to the employees. Wish all restaurants did the same!

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R
San Francisco
86 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Every dish was interesting and flavorful in this seafood oriented Mexican fine dining restaurant. Service was excellent. Our server offered good suggestions on what to order. Seating was comfortable. Cocktails were unique with a Mexican twist. We had a fine birthday for my wife.

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M
Denver
4 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Lovely dinner here before going to see Miss Saigon. The food was inventive and delicious! The cocktails were amazing and the tequila/mezcal menu extensive. There was also a really good wine list and several good beer options. Service was aweseom. Definitely want to come back!

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HB
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on October 14, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Beautiful interior and lighting. Food was delicious - especially loved the sweet potato with bone marrow.

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c
San Francisco
16 reviews
Dined on October 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food and excellent services

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AC
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on October 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Definitely order the trout tostadas! Fabulous tequila selection.

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D
San Francisco
20 reviews
Dined on October 10, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

It was our first time at Cala and we had a wonderful server named Miguel who helped us navigate the menu. Some of the highlights we chose were Camaronillas, Pork Tamal and Salpicon. Food was delicious. We are definitely going to be dining again at Cala.

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AM
1 review
Dined on October 8, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Really enjoyed my time at Cala, would probably order a little differently if I were to go again. The sweet potato with tortillas felt as though it was missing something and I probably would not reccomend. Oysters were good but probably not value for money. Mussels tamale were the highlight of the dish!

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SD
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on October 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Cala has never disappointed - delicious, unique and inventive food, tasty and interesting drinks, options and kitchen adaptability for all eaters (e.g., vegetarian) and really nice, warm and authentic servers. Truly a gem.

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on October 7, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 5ambience 3

Stairs on the high tables are too cloose together, there is no space and no privacy

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SS
San Francisco
21 reviews
Dined on October 7, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a wonderful experience at Cala! The trout tostadas and fish for 2 were especially memorable. The service was great. The server provided us extra tortillas to go with our leftover fish. It was a special trat for our date night.

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