Calavera Mexican Kitchen & Agave Bar

4.1
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913 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Mexican
Calavera’s diverse menu celebrates the unique and layered gastronomy of Mexico. Using traditional ingredients and techniques, Chef Dario Patoja presents both new and familiar Mexican flavors with an inspired, modern perspective. Calavera offers a full bar with an extensive tequila and mezcal collection, innovative cocktails, and a 120+ bottle wine list. Come enjoy the spirit of Mexico in an artistic, comfortable environment in Oakland's uptown!
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What 913 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.1based on recent ratings
4.3
food
3.8
service
4.2
ambience
3.8
value
Noise · Moderate
80% of people would recommend it to a friend
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JS
San Francisco
22 reviews
Dined on November 30, 2019
Overall1food1service4ambience4

Asked for prawns not spicy. Told wait person no heat. My prawns had heat wasnt flavorful just hot. Bland food

TR
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on November 29, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The host, Ryan, was friendly and really helpful, getting us seated even though we arrived early. The margaritas are amazing, and the mezcalera drink is even better. The chips are housemade with heirloom corn and the guacamole is some of the best I’ve ever had. My mom loved the tacos and my gf ordered a unique and beautiful citrus salad. They both let me try their dishes and they were really delicious. And I loved my pork dish. Too bad we didn’t have room left to try a dessert.

OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2019
Overall3food4service3ambience4

Food was good but service was terrible . Asked for a spin 3x while I waiting for my soup. Then our friend got the fish asked for it to be deboned the lady brought it over and rude way said “I don do that”.. when we clearly saw it happening to table next to us . Took the fish back and had someone do it in the back . Not sure why service was so bad . Not impressed at all.

p
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2019
Overall3food2service2ambience3

Really wanted to love this more esp at $200 for 4. The chips kept the stars high. The carne asada plate was greasy and tough and the sides it came with were inedible. A trio of tacos had good flavor but the tortillas fell apart upon handling. Across the table polite guests said they enjoyed their meals....

OT
1 review
Dined on November 21, 2019
Overall3food4service1ambience2

Food was good. Service spotty. Prices high and the server kept pushing additional plates.

CL
1 review
Dined on November 16, 2019
Overall3food2service4ambience5

Great place for drinks and appetizers because of the suave ambiance and cool and hip decor. Dinner portions were small and very expensive and were not very tasty or very Mexican.

JO
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on November 13, 2019
Overall3food3service4ambience3

My chicken was served cold: it must have Been other people’s rejected order. They should at least heat it up before they served it. Otherwise, the experience was decent.

J
1 review
Dined on November 10, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Delicious food and drinks, nice waiter, great vibe. Only tiny bummer was the noise level. So many places I love are just too loud for hanging out, talking and relaxing. I wish this wasn't one of them, but add it to the list. Otherwise a great and delicious restaurant.

MN
1 review
Dined on November 7, 2019
Overall4food4service3ambience4

Nicer atmosphere than it seems from the pictures. Pleasantly surprised by this. Service was slow. Food was really slow and we were early diners-seated at 530. Glad we didn't try and eat at 730. Drinks were good, but really slow to hit the table, appetizers were up first. Food was good. Mole was very tasty and the whole fish presentation was great and classic. Guacamole portion was kind of small. Overall it was very good and comments on slow service are accurate, so we knew what we were getting into.

EM
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on November 6, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our server was great. Very knowledgeable and upbeat. Food was really good. We tried various dishes and all were tasty.

M
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined on November 2, 2019
Overall3food4service2ambience3

This was not my first time for a meal at Calavera; but it was the first time that we experienced long waits from the time we sat down to the time we finally got our bill some 2 hours or more later. Is a half an hour wait for a refill on margueritas typical? There were two or three tables near us who arrived after us who had food on their tables while we had to wait and wait. Our server, who was very sweet and apologetic, was either a new employee; was overwhelmed by how busy the restaurant was; or just didn´t have it together. The several waits we experienced during the evening took away from what should have been a
very enjoyable evening.

OT
San Francisco
61 reviews
Dined on October 29, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience4

I think it must have been an off night, but I rate based on experience, not hope. Our friends have been to Calavera many times and love it. The service was a bit spotty - entrees arriving shortly after we got our appetizers, clearing plates too soon (the place was less than half full, so no need to rush us), etc. My conchinita pibil was kinda bad - super salty and not flavorful at all, with plain beans and rice. Margaritas were so-so. Ambiance was nice, not loud at all - a pleasant change from many restaurants.

S
San Francisco
32 reviews
Dined on October 28, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Our waiter was great recommending dishes and drinks we might like & steering us away from his lesser fave dishes (ie. less authentic, but people-pleasing). He also recommended a lovely Mescal for sipping.
Ambience is great, DOD seasonal decor right now and busy. Food is tasty and interesting. I think the cost of the some of the dishes is higher than necessary, and with drinks it ends up being a pricey evening.

OT
1 review
Dined on October 25, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Birthday celebration!

OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on October 25, 2019
Overall3food5service3ambience5

Food was delicious but the service was very slow. I would have loved to order another drink and dessert but it took so long for our food order to be taken and for our drinks to arrive that we couldn’t.

E
San Francisco
24 reviews
Dined on October 25, 2019
Overall2food2service2ambience2

Bland food, except the roasted corn.
Good drinks, sad wait staff

OT
San Diego
7 reviews
Dined on October 24, 2019
Overall3food5service1ambience4

Good food but bad service, three different waiters and had to ask at some point if we could order our food.

Guac, ceviche and drinks were good!

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 23, 2019
Overall1food4service1ambience3

Extremely poor service. Been here many, many times and love the ambience and food but the wait staff was brutal. The first waiter couldn’t be bothered with our table, rushed us and wasn’t apologetic at all. The manager took a turn but while he was super nice he couldn’t help how long everything took and how little attention our table received. Won’t be back again.

JL
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on October 21, 2019
Overall3food4service3ambience4

The food was very good. The service was not. Waiter did not check in with us often, food did not come out together.

j
San Francisco
23 reviews
Dined on October 20, 2019
Overall4food3service3ambience5

Margaritas were delicious, ambience sitting out on the deck was great!

BH
1 review
Dined on October 19, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This was our first visit to Calavera. Arrived at our reservation time and was promptly seated. Our waitress was very helpful and made great suggestions for drink and food choices. Food was served promptly and was delicious. This was a great find!

j
San Francisco
33 reviews
Dined on October 18, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience5

Dinner before a show, 3rd visit. Food gets better and better

U
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on October 17, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It was a pleasure to be greeted with a smile and a professional spirit. Host seated us , our waiter Samuel introduced himself and it was a 4 star experience throughout the evening. The food arrived promptly, served warm and delicious. Everything was awesome.

ML
Mexico City
39 reviews
Dined on October 14, 2019
Overall3food2service4ambience3

I had family in from New York who I knew would appreciate some upscale Mexican food unfortunately it didn’t work out. The cocktails were absolutely delicious and thoughtfully put together. The service was excellent. The food on the other hand was disappointing. The ceviche was chewy and not fresh, the tortilla chips were rock hard. The Chile Relleno was tough and filled with watery vegetables. One bright star was the Hen of the Woods Mole- delicious. The prices at Calavera are very high; it is inexcusable to serve this low quality food in Oakland.

NR
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on October 4, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

The food and service were especially outstanding. The waitress did not fail to deliver promptly. The food was far beyond I expected. Drinks was great too. Highly recommended!

m
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on October 3, 2019
Overall1food4service1ambience3

Calavera is beautiful. The food is good to very good, and the staff are friendly, when they appear. The mezcal selection is fantastic but it's not easy to get any. We arrived early for a 7pm reservation and were still there at nearly 10, having seen other tables fill, be fed and leave while we waited through several inexplicable delays, mostly with our mezcal orders. Our first order of two mezcals took 50 minutes, at which time we were served one and told that the other was not available. Meanwhile a steady stream of margaritas and other mixed drinks were being delivered to the tables around us. It took another 20 minutes to get a replacement mezcal for the one they didn't have. Oddly, our food came out so fast that it could not possibly have been cooked to order. I suppose popular dishes like the pollo con mole poblano and cochinita pibil, which we ordered, are made in anticipation of orders. Both were very good. The staff knew they were failing us and our server plus two managers all made apologetic visits to our table, but they seemed unable to expedite our service at any time. Very disappointing as the occasion became centered around the restaurant, not the pleasant anniversary date we were celebrating.

M
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on October 3, 2019
Overall3food4service1ambience5

We love this place but recently on a uncrowded Wednesday night we went and had terribly slow service and the food wasn't as good as ususal. We also had a birthday, which we reminded them about twice and after waiting 30 minutes for dessert, they forgot to put a candle in the one dessert we ordered. When the mgr finally delivered our dessert, I said: "No candle?" and he said: "It's a birthday? No one told me." and walked away. Really disappointing.

LC
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 29, 2019
Overall3food1service5ambience4

Excellent service and decent drinks. The Mole chicken was super dry. The beans with the chile relleno were cold and soupy. The tacos were bland. Wanted to love this place but the food just wasn't that good but all of the staff were great!

JS
San Francisco
33 reviews
Dined on September 29, 2019
Overall3food4service1ambience4

Horrible service by no fault of the staff. Shame on management for understaffing in both the back (kitchen) and front (servers). For this reason, I can NOT recommend. 2 hours 10 minutes for lunch is a ridiculous amount of time to spend.

I
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on September 29, 2019
Overall3food3service2ambience4

I love this place but the last two times I’ve dined outside the service has lacked attention. Our waiter was good when he was speaking with us but we had to flag him down to order then after we received food I think we saw him once then we never saw him again.
The food was good and our drinks were Great (as usual :-).

MS
Denver
6 reviews
Dined on September 24, 2019
Overall2food2service2ambience4

The food is not great. We had the ceviche verde and it was just fish. There were no chunks of avocado or jalapenos or anything but chunks of fish which at first seemed appealing because it's a big pile of meat but without the additional flavors, it was really just a very boring and bland dish. The rest of our dishes (husband had pork chop and I had the cochinita pibil and the meat was overly salty (and I'm a person who can never get enough salt) and it was just okay. I've had the tacos there a couple of times and they're pretty decent and reasonably priced. If I go back, I'll stick with the tacos.

HO
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on September 21, 2019
Overall1food2service1ambience2

The service was horrendous. We waited 20 minutes before anyone came around to take our order. They cited staffing issues and new management but other tables seemed to have a bit more attentive staff working them. I asked for a straw when the drinks came because I have stitches on one side of my bottom lip and can't really drink from a glass without spilling everything around. The server seemed to be understanding of that...but no straw came for at least 15 min. I felt like the quality of the food was outweighed by how poor the service was tonight. The food was good but not enough for me to ever come back. We then waited over 30 minutes for the check after asking 3 times. We almost got it but they had to go back to resolve something with the bar staff. It was ridiculous. I have tipped 15% once in my entire life when service was bad as I usually tip at least 20% as a general rule. I tipped them about 12%. Shout out to Wayne for being the one staff member who seemed to pay attention and know what he was doing. Thanks to him, they get at least one star. (I posted this to yelp too. People should know to avoid this place. I checked other reviews too and they have all consistently said the same on how or why it’s bad. )

GP
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 21, 2019
Overall2food4service1ambience4

Service was unacceptably slow. Our table, and those around us, were waiting 1/2 hr to order, to pay or to obtain change. Good news, the food was good, but the starters and the main course came out at the same time. They appeared to be fully staffed and the restaurant was only 1/2 full. The staff was disorganized and it appeared that no one was in charge or aware of the waiting.

AY
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 21, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

We have always enjoyed dining here-just a few recommendations to make the experience better.
Big shoutout to Luca who accommodated us with our guest number change.
The host-not sure what his name is but he was very attentive and pleasant
and in constant motion to take care of things.
The duck confit tacos were amazing-the combination of ingredients were well executed.
Guacamole tasted a bit watery-chips a bit dry.
The shortribs were delicious-presentation would be more complete with some sides-
meat looked lonely by itself on plate.
The cheese fondue with chorizo could use a little more chorizo.
It was a warm night and no air condition so it was a bit uncomfortable.

E
1 review
Dined on September 21, 2019
Overall1food2service1ambience1

Horrible experience from beginning to end. Our server took 30 minutes to take a our drinks order, it took another 20 minutes to receive them. After an hour we started to get a few dishes, some were wrong and never corrected/replaced. I had to get up from the table multiple times to track staff down to help us. At the end of our meal we ended up canceling part of our order since it never came. No apologies, nothing. Food was okay - would have loved to taste more had we the chance to!

s
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on September 21, 2019
Overall3food3service2ambience2

It was too loud for us. Service started out great, but as soon as the restaurant filled up our waiter went MIA. The best part was the Shrimp Veracruz and their house margarita. But get the margarita during Happy Hour, otherwise, not worth the price.

w
San Francisco
163 reviews
Dined on September 17, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Was pleased to see how much service has improved since we first started going here. The food has always been delicious and different and now it Isco binned with good service.
Hands down the best margarita in the easrbay
Thank you Joseph for helping make this such a positive experience

AM
1 review
Dined on September 16, 2019
Overall1food3service1ambience3

I requested outdoor seating, which was great. Then I ripped my pants on a nail sticking out of one of their benches... the bar manager was very apologetic and gave me her card to reimburse me, and I've reached out twice with no answer. I'm very disappointed as I go there often for business lunches and other events. I will not be returning after this experience.

BT
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on September 10, 2019
Overall2food4service1ambience3

I’ll make my comments directly to the restaurant. Prefer not to criticize publicly.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 9, 2019
Overall3food4service2ambience3

The food was good. But considering we were only 1 of a handful of tables the service was really slow