La Calenda

4.3
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201 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Mexican

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Casual
With a culinary program led by Chef de Cuisine Kaelin Ulrich Trilling, La Calenda combines traditional Mexican food and fixtures in a family-friendly environment. Using fresh and artisanal ingredients, and employing traditional cooking methods, the restaurant features dishes from Chef Kaelin’s native Oaxaca while casting a glance across a range of Mexican regional cuisines. La Calenda complements its menu with a full bar specializing in tequila, mezcal, beer, local and new world wines. With accents sourced from Mexico, the restaurant’s design and decor provides a fitting backdrop for the cuisine. La Calenda is a place for all occasions, from planned celebrations to casual sit-down dinners, lunch with the kids or drinks at the bar.
What 201 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.3based on recent ratings
4.3
food
4.2
service
4.2
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
76% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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OT
Tahoe
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall3food2service4ambience4

A little disappointing.queso fundido tasted like Velveeta. Elote...corn out of season...probably shouldn't have been on menu. Server was charming.

JL
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall2food2service3ambience4

I was really hoping to prove the skeptics wrong, but unfortunately it was not the case. We ate chips and salsa, enchiladas and pork tacos. The meat in both was cooked without seasoning and was not simmered or braised so I agree with other reviewers that the meat was bland and the tortillas on both were just...there. Both dishes relied on their sauces for all of the flavor. (which were good, but not good enough to carry an entire dish) The chips were good, but VERY greasy. I grew up close to the Mexican border in plenty of hispanic households. This may be authentic Oaxacan cuisine, but we didn't think it was good Oaxacan cuisine.

S
San Francisco
79 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall2food2service2ambience2

Very pricey average food. The tacos were good, the guacamole and salsas were good. You pay for chips and salsa. The rice and beans were not worth the extra cost - incredibly bland. The music was crazy loud, the hostess called it “lively”...service was not attentive. Save your money...

OT
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall2food3service4ambience1

“Energetic” is an understatement. The music and sound level was deafening. Won’t be going back.

OT
Des Moines
2 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food and always amazing service!

OT
New Orleans
15 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Fabulous fish tacos and Mexican street corn.

n
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on November 6, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Totopos though expensive at $7.50 were thick, crispy and soooo good. The pork with mole verde was so tender, one didn't need a knife to cut it. It just melted in your mouth. It's a must for a return visit.

N
Central Coast
13 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2019
Overall3food3service2ambience2

It was disappointing. The noise level was so high we couldn’t talk. Most of the food lacked spices so it was bland including the margarita. We thought it would be great since Thomas Keller headed, but not so. Back to Ad Hoc which is outstanding.

GO
Sacramento
6 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience5

The food was good. I was disappointed that the tortilla chips cost extra and that the dinner didn’t include sides like rice and beans.

RS
San Francisco
21 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

This was an outstanding restaurant! We are pleasantly surprised. We ordered the tuna appetizer which was exquisite. Our fish (branzino) was also excellent. Our steak was a bit rare and we should have asked for medium rare. Overall, we will go back again in a heartbeat! This is a must try restaurant (and mind you I am very critical of most restaurants)!

TH
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on November 2, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great bar, amazing food. Try to sit with a view of the kitchen...typical Thomas Keller laser focus on fresh and authentic ingredients with an energetic kitchen crew who are loving their work and determined to create something special.

B
San Francisco
62 reviews
Dined on November 2, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience3

Dinner was o.k., was super fun to be there on day of the dead, make up was awesome on most of the servers. We decided to sit outside, I asked for a chair to put my purse on and there were several extra chairs, I was told no. I put it on my lap and thought she was not very accommodating, about five minutes later I guess she decided she could spare one. Chips were excellent. Had a not so good pumpkin dessert but, the brittle on top of the pumpkin was delicious. Enjoyed the outside dining. Not up to par for what I expected.

LO
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 1, 2019
Overall3food4service5ambience4

We went on Friday evening November 1, Dia de los Muertos. The food and service were very good and the restaurant was nicely decorated. We had two issues: first the music in the restaurant was very loud and made it difficult to have a conversation. We asked to have it turned down and the music was only slightly reduced. Still not to background level.
We left earlier than we ordinarily would and ordered less food than we ordinarily would. Second, the standard $12 margaritas were not good. They tasted like wine-margaritas. We asked what was in them and our server said they were made with tequila. I think it’s hard to serve a bad margarita.
We’ll give the restaurant another try and sit outside and have beer.

T
Milwaukee
46 reviews
Dined on November 1, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Another Keller winner. Simple menu and reasonable prices. Food is excellent. We enjoyed La Calenda so much that we visited for Dinner one evening and went back for lunch the next day. Chicken tamale and the carnitas tacos are great.

2
San Francisco
47 reviews
Dined on November 1, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience4

The food was wonderful, especially the green mole pork and the carbon chicken

the waiter was trying too hard to get us to order quickly

VN
1 review
Dined on October 30, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

I love itttttttt. Everything was amazing and authentic.

J
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 30, 2019
Overall4food4service3ambience4

Fun place, good food. Portions a little on the small side. They brought the appetizers at least 5 min before the drinks, very odd. And they never asked us if we wanted desert. I'd still go back though.

J
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on October 30, 2019
Overall3food5service2ambience2

Service was sorely lacking, forgetting many of our food orders altogether, not checking on us when we needed to ask for extra napkins or pay the bill. Food was wonderful. Music was wayyyy to loud.

OT
1 review
Dined on October 26, 2019
Overall4food5service5ambience4

Great service and delicious food. Nice warm heaters for outside dining. Very loud crowd and sports on the TVs making it difficult to hold a dinner conversation.

CH
1 review
Dined on October 25, 2019
Overall2food2service3ambience3

We wanted to love this place, but the enchiladas and tacos were all bone dry, and the chips (for salsa and guacamole) were rock hard. The margaritas were decent and the service was good. Just really disappointing food.

C
1 review
Dined on October 24, 2019
Overall5food3service5ambience5

We love La Calenda! Always great food, Margaritas and our server was fantastic! totally informed about the menu and choices for our friend who has dietary restrictions. And then we took our leftovers home and wished we had brought more!!!

OT
Charlotte
2 reviews
Dined on October 24, 2019
Overall3food3service2ambience4

We had a lunch reservation but waited about 15 minutes for our table to be set up. Cocktails came out after the food which for me is a bit of a problem. Food was decent but not what I’ve come to expect from a Thomas Keller restaurant. I’d give them another chance though.

RB
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Amazing authentic Mexican food!

m
San Francisco
17 reviews
Dined on October 23, 2019
Overall3food3service1ambience3

We had to pay extra for salsa and chips (too salty), guacamole, and rice and beans. Portion sizes are small. This is the second time we've dined there and we've had the same server twice. He's the tall white guy not the shorter Mexican gentleman. He never smiles, and acts like the last thing he wants to do is wait on you, not friendly at all. Add that to the food being just okay and over priced and I think we'll go somewhere else next time.

DV
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on October 20, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Not your typical Mexican food restaurant. What a great experience. Food was delicious, Service was wonderful! We ate on the patio on a beautiful evening. We will be back again.

R
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 19, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

A highly recommendable, New Mexican restaurant that is the most casual version of an upscale dining establishment; environment is relaxed and energetic; the pork jowl is a must order, as is anything that comes with their freshly made tortillas; lovely sangria (not too sweet, not too tart).

KB
Tahoe
2 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Unbelievably delicious renditions of traditional food, at a super reasonable price. The signature cocktails were full of fascinating flavors, and also very reasonably priced. The wait staff was super attentive and well trained - couldn't have had a better experience.

DE
Montana
6 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2019
Overall3food3service4ambience2

Nice people. Nice place.

However, given the other places to dine in the area, La Calenda is nothing special.

HW
San Francisco
21 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2019
Overall3food5service2ambience3

We had a lunch reservation and when we arrived we were immediately seated. We were given water right away as well. Server took several minutes to get to us (moderately busy). Took our drink order and then we just sat there for about 10 minutes at least. Server came back to ask if we were ready to order (sans drinks). Asked her for the drinks. She went to the bar and then came back immediately, drinks at the ready. Table was wobbly.
Despite the mis-steps w/the service, chips & guac were fantastic, and the portion sizes are very generous. The guacamole takes you straight back to Mexico - so fresh and so good. We then shared a quesadilla, which is classic Thomas Keller, familiar but oh-so-deliciously-new. Good selection of Mexican wines if you're not into tequila.
I would recommend to friends, and I would go back. But service is spotty which is very unusual for a TK spot.

f
New England
87 reviews
Dined on October 18, 2019
Overall3food4service4ambience4

Our evening started with the hostess saying they were rather delayed seating groups... It was a crowded Friday night after 7pm, but I had the reservations for many weeks. The sound system was very loud throughout, no conversations could be heard and not helped by young drunken ladies squealing to each other.
The drink menu had some different items, not all winners. Basic Margaritas adequate. You have to pay for chips & salsa, plus a very green $$ guacamole. We ordered a beet salad, quesidillas, which arrived the same time or after the mains - chicken enchilladas, adobo chicken , seafood tacos and shrimp . Nothing was overcooked, chicken was very tender, mole seemed a bit flat- not particularly chocolately nor spicy. We were persuaded to get one order of churros to share- once again OK, but not as expected of a Thomas Keller establishment. This was an expensive version of Mexican fare, sad to say, nothing stood out other than the young waiter, who was very well trained, but the food was not as exciting as hoped.

b
New England
1 review
Dined on October 18, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience4

The atmosphere is energized. Food is flavorful staff is very committed

RY
San Francisco
33 reviews
Dined on October 18, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Really really loud.
Could hardly talk over the noise level.

BW
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on October 18, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Out of state visitors

D
Tampa
1 review
Dined on October 15, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Jr. our bartender was very attentive and energetic. Made great recommendations and made incredible margaritas. Enjoyed the evening.

PE
Orlando
15 reviews
Dined on October 14, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Great cocktails, a nice break from wine in wine country

A
New York Area
12 reviews
Dined on October 14, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

My husband and I shared the tacos carnitas and they were delicious. He had the skirt steak as his main which he really enjoyed. I had the shrimp which I loved. We will definitely be back. If you are in town you definitely have to try it!

k
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 14, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It’s fabulous and worth it but dang it is expensive.

LC
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 14, 2019
Overall3food3service4ambience4

Attractive place w/ really nice outdoor patio; pleasant and efficient wait staff; chips were outstanding; the rest of the food was good to very good. Biggest complaint was that even outside the music was so loud we had to raise our voices quite a bit just to have a conversation (at a table for four). I haven't eaten inside yet, but noticed that although there is a giant TV in the bar area, thankfully, there were no TVs in the main part of the restaurant.

MB
Washington DC
7 reviews
Dined on October 13, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Delicious food with casual, at ease ambiance. Many different portion sizes from which to choose which was welcome after a long day of wine tasting.

OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on October 13, 2019
Overall3food3service5ambience5

Two of us loved our dishes (Barbados and steak tacos) while the other 2 guests said it was meh at best (mike enchiladas and mushroom tacos). Really good queso. Sangria was just ok.