Kaya SF

4.4
222 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Jamaican
Daniel Patterson and Alta Group have partnered with chef/co-owner Nigel Jones of Oakland’s Kingston 11 Cuisine to open Kaya, a community-oriented restaurant featuring modern Jamaican dishes grounded in tradition and prepared with pristine California ingredients.

Opened in early 2018 in the Mid-Market space that was formerly the original location of Alta, Kaya is Nigel’s first restaurant in San Francisco proper. Named for Bob Marley and the Wailer’s sixth album, Kaya represents the irie feelings cultivated when people gather around a table in community. Kaya offers a distinct experience from Kingston 11 while still retaining the lively and social vibe that has made Kingston a beloved destination for Oakland locals since its opening in 2013.

Alta Group bar director Aaron Paul has collaborated with the Kaya team on a rum-based beverage program to complement Nigel's soulful menu.
What 222 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.4based on recent ratings
4.4
food
4.2
service
4.3
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
85% of people would recommend it to a friend
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o
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

I had dinner there a few weeks ago and enjoyed it so I went back for lunch with two coworkers. I had the jerk chicken sandwich that was bone dry with a few small dry pieces of chicken that were flavorless. Most the volume of the sandwich was fried plantain. I asked for aioli or mayonnaise to keep me from choking on the arid sandwich but that didn’t help- I had mayo on a dry flavorless sandwich for $16. One coworker had the curry vegetables. The curry was good but the vegetables were over cooked and soggy. My other coworker had the jerk chicken salad that he said was “edible”. The mango papaya salad we shared was good but there are only a few small slivers of mango and papaya so it is really some bagged Costco baby greens with mango and papaya garnish and a decent dressing. Fried plantain was par for the course but the bean and cream dip is only small enough for two pieces of plantain so you have to be prepared to eat the rest of the plantain on its own- frankly you can get the same dish for half the price with an abundance of beans and cream anywhere in the mission.
I was excited about this restaurant but it is really not worth the trip.

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E
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food and service was excellent. We had a bunch of small plates and the jerk chicken. great spices/flavors. Love the rum list too.

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MC
Dublin
1 review
Dined on March 15, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

It took ages for us to be taken the order. The food was not delicious neither. I ordered the Curry (vegan version). The rice and beans are friend in butter so didn't come (I get it), however, plantains were supposed to be there and were missing. It is a cool place with nice atmosphere, but the food is not worth it.

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DL
1 review
Dined on March 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was wonderful! the food was so delicious and the ambiance was perfect. I would definitely recommend this restaurant for Jamaican cuisine

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OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on March 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My husband and I had a wonderful time. The food, service, music and overall experience was great. We'll definitely be back!

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L
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious food and great service! I'll definitely be back.

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BL
Sacramento
10 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Friendly and efficient staff. Good Jamaican home cooking and comfortable setting. I would recommend and return.

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M
San Francisco
35 reviews
Dined on March 8, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Our meals were very tasty, the prices were reasonable, and the service prompt and friendly.

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OT
London
3 reviews
Dined on March 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great flavors, staff was friendly but could have been more attentive.

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MM
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on March 2, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 5

The first time we visited this restaurant, we had a great experience. The food was delicious, our server made recommendations and we had a great time. This time around, it wasn't quite as great. Our server totally forgot about us once we ordered drinks. The restaurant was occupied, but by no means stuffed to the gills. It didn't make sense that we were totally forgotten for most of the night. We were never asked if we wanted a second drink, and our server didn't even take some of our orders. The food was fine this time around, but the level of service ensured that we don't need to come back again, sorry to say.

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PR
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

The restaurant was hopping. There only appeared to be a few servers who were swamped. It took awhile for our server to get to us, but the food came out quickly and was hot and delicious. I had the Pirri Pirri Chicken which is hands-down the best chicken I've ever had in a restaurant; my daughter had the Oxtail Stew which she enjoyed immensely. I only wished there was an option to have fingerling potatoes OR fried plantains. Fortunately, my daughter and I swapped those items, so we were both happy.

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o
San Francisco
20 reviews
Dined on February 20, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Kaya is a friendly restaurant with terrific flavors and excellent value. We shared a roasted kale and beet salad which was very tasty even though the kale was a little chewy. Crispy Salmon with Pickled Vegetables and Piri Piri Chicken were also hits. Host and server made sure we finished in time to make ACT's performance at the Strand Theater.

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OT
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on February 15, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

I have been here twice. Food overall is good and tasty. Certain plates tend sometimes to lack a little seasoning, nonetheless the majority of the plates I have had are good. My favorite so far are the fish fritters, the rock cod fish, the jerk chicken and most definitely the ox tail stew is by far the tastier!! Their habanero and pomegranate molasses ice cream combine with their rum cake is exquisite!! Service is very good! Milton has been my waiter both times and he has been excellent!! I highly recommend this restaurant!

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JM
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on February 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Love the salt fish and ackee. Takes me back to Jamaica

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D
San Francisco
51 reviews
Dined on February 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great Jamaican food, drink and atmosphere. Most enjoyable.

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EM
1 review
Dined on February 3, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

The service was great, and the food was flavorful and nicely presented; however, the menu was a bit limited.

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TJ
Detroit
49 reviews
Dined on February 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Friendly, stylish, nicely mixed clientele, quite good food. Saltfish fritters, saluted green beans and goat curry plenty for two--goat is clearly the best meat for curry. Sprightly rum drinks even one in a coconut that was surprisingly good. The music level was about to get loud when we left about 7.

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OT
1 review
Dined on January 30, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

Almost ate a piece of undercooked/close to raw grilled prawn which happened to be the last piece...bite into a prawn and it tasted all wrong and texture was off. So had to spit it out, which thank God I did! I had a stomach upset a few hrs later, lasting a while. I had brought it to the attention of a staff when he was clearing the dish with no expectation of a remedy. However he said he would get a manager to address it. Shortly after, a lady came to the table and asked what the problem was and I told her that one prawn was uncooked and she merely said “ok” and removed the plate with no word of apology and in fact I had to apologize to her that I had to spit the raw prawn out as she gave me a rather “dirty” look for even trying to bring the “incident” to their attention. Then when I was having my main course (the crispy skin salmon), she repeatedly came over to the table trying to clear the plate when half of it was still on the plate and I was apparently working on it with the knife and fork in hand and literally eating it! The food was unimpressive as I had tasted better jerk chicken and the salmon did have a crispy skin but also probably had a very uneven seasoning as my 1st bite of the salmon tasted like it had a dollop of salt on, with the rest of the fish being reasonably more edible. I was not going to send any food back to the kitchen for fear of what they might do to my food, especially with the nasty attitude I got from her...probably just a server as she did not identify herself as a manager and in fact was the same person who took the orders at my table. No offer of the desserts to end the meal which I had no desire to have at that point anyways. So overall, bad food and atrociously bad service & bad attitude. DEFINITELY DO NOT RECOMMEND. Probably had lots of fake reviews which I had read and believed before my dining experience. Music was too loud to hold a conversation that I feel like I was competing with it to have a conversation with my friend.

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OT
1 review
Dined on January 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The drinks , food and ambience was perfect

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on January 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Very tasty food, excellent spicing and strong flavors. Good service and convenient location too.

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N
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Very fun place with excellent staff and a new take on some traditional cocktails.

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DE
Orlando
1 review
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing customer service

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DT
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on January 18, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Went to dinner here before a show at the Golden Gate Theatre. Was easy to get reservations ahead of time and they were very good about getting food out so we had a pleasant dinner and plenty of time to get to the theatre. (6:15 reservation with an 8pm show). Everyone enjoied their food except one that found things a bit too spicy to her liking. The only downside was that the music was a bit too loud to talk over.

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JJ
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 5ambience 2

Great food and overall feel of the room. Some innovative and tasty cuisine. Music was good, but WAY too loud for the size of room.

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OT
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The jerk chicken papaya salad was delicious. Good portion of chicken and a mild dressing made flavors pop. Especially when you got a plantain in the mix. The meet patty was very plain and needed hot sauce but the fish fritters were great.

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AK
1 review
Dined on January 12, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 3

One of the worst dining experience , I really doubt the chef knows what’s Caribbean cuisine .
The jerk chicken was cover in cloves, we barely touched it.
The server said nothing , only asked if we were done and just took the plate without asking if there was anything wrong with it .
Our other dish was goat curry that was on the weekend special, the curry was 80% rice 10% curry, 10% plantain . The 10% curry was 50% bones .......100% disappointment

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k
Los Angeles
12 reviews
Dined on January 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

delicious food with wonderful service - would highly recommend the blood orange mimosa and the salt fish fritters

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f
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on January 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Kaya has a NYC Caribbean restaurant vibe. Food is amazing and atmosphere is energetic.

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OT
Philadelphia
2 reviews
Dined on January 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food, ambience, and service! The plantains are incredible

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on January 6, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food at brunch. Jerk chicken is delicious atop the sandwich or salad. Plantains were cooked perfectly. Server was kind and prompt (and wore an awesome suit)

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II
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Went for brunch with a friend on a rainy weekend - the place was fairly empty so I was nervous but upon looking at the menu and actually getting our food my fears were calmed. The salt fish appetizer was delicious, as was my blackened tofu. I got the montego slang - nice and citrusy and not too strong. Only disappointment was the dessert - it wasn't listed on the menu, but was some kind of rum chocolate cake with dates that was slightly bitter and dry. The overall experience was still a good one, and I would go back - just not get dessert again.

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LP
1 review
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a group of 8 for New Years Eve. We got seated right away in a convenient location. The food was very good and came quickly. There was a DJ and the music was just right--not too loud so you couldn't hear each other talk! We danced after dinner and made friends with the group at the next table. They gave out champagne at midnight and we toasted to the New Year with all our new friends in the restaurant. I would highly recommend it for any occasion. I am so glad we chose Kaya over the other New Years Eve price gouger places in SFO.

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OT
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

A really great vibe and experience for a NYE dinner. Just enough music to be fun, and yummy food. Thanks!

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CG
New England
5 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

small menu, big portions. We got the Papaya & Greens, Jerk Chicken, and Ox Tail Stew, all amazing. Their swirl soft serve is the best I've ever had.

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JN
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Super yummy, great service, fun vibe!!! Would recommend without reservation.

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

There were more people in our party than the reservation was made for. They promptly set up additional tables for us. Shani our server was very attentive to us. The food came not long after we ordered. The food was fantastic as well as our cocktails. Kaya is now on our list of favorite restaurants.

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AA
1 review
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

After changing our reservation from Friday to Monday via a phone call to the restaurant (for which they updated the OpenTable reservation for me), we arrived on Monday to find the restaurant completely closed. WOW.

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GF
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

A good place for a taste of the Caribbean. Food is good and authentic. I ordered the piri piri chicken. There was no piri piri taste; it was very bland. There was no flavor, the chicken was blackened too much, but the meat was tender. It was served with roasted pickling potatoes that were tasty, no vegetables. The spicy shrimp was very good for an appetizer. The salted fish fritter was a bit too fishy to order a whole plate-we asked for a sampling. The pomegranate and mint soda is excellent though this second time it did not have as much pomegranate juice in it.

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KE
1 review
Dined on December 21, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food and great atmosphere! I highly recommend the jerk chicken, green beans and kale salad

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OS
Seattle
13 reviews
Dined on December 16, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent all around and they make a fantastic ackee and salt fish - a traditional Jamaican dish. The DJ made brunch that much more festive!

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