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.
What Insiders Are Saying
The seafood and vegetable-focused Mexican food at Cala is some of the best in San Francisco.
This is a wonderful restaurant. Beautiful space, very consistently delicious food and great cocktails. I normally would say the service is one of its high marks as well; we've had many positive experiences and interactions. However this last visit the service was definitely off. The staff was awkward and there were more than a few mistakes (wrong drinks, food went to the wrong table, charged for something we didn't order. Either the training has slipped, which would be a shame, or we just experienced an off night. Hoping it was the latter!
Good things and ok things about this restaurant. The good; interesting menu with good fish options, veggie options, especially the avocado tostada, yummy. I also liked the vegetarian sope, and the Paloma cocktail, and the fish for two.
bad: don't let yourself be seated next to the wait station. way too loud and disruptive.
The food, service and ambiance were all wonderful. The wine list (by the glass) was disappointing. They let us taste 4 options which was very generous but we couldn’t find one we liked and switched to beer.
One of my favorite restaurants in the city where we live.
Absolutely delicious food, presentation, and friendly wait staff.
We were served all 5 dishes within 35 min. It was meant to be an evening out for us, but we felt completely rushed and the food felt manufactured.
Cala is always a favorite of ours. This time, as usual, the food was totally outstanding! We had the rockfish with tortillas & black beans--we've had it before and this time it was again excellent and fun to eat! The mezcal margarita, trout tostadas & flan were great!! The only reason this isn't a 5-star rating is that the server delivered a check with 3 expensive items that we didn't order--he fixed the error right away, but it did detract somewhat from an otherwise excellent experience. I can hardly wait to return to Cala!
The oysters with epazote were delicious, so was the sea bass in pipian, but I had the MOST OVERPRICED sweet potato (camote) of my life there. The bill forces the 20% service fee rather than the more common SF 15%. The restaurant reminded me of dining in Mexico City, especially with the impeccable service and good food, but really, $19 sweet potato? I feel it is overpriced by San Francisco standards. Bring down the pricing a bit and I may even return for a full meal! Otherwise, I'd be tempted to go in only for cocktails and a small bite before a show.
Birthday was not acknowledged. Service not great, meal was excellent
Excellent food, great Margaritas, helpful knowledgeable staff. The best!
Super friendly staff and delicious food. We'll certainly be back!
Amazing food and ambiance. I will definitely go back!
Delicious and a definite repeat!
Food was innovative and delicious; service was very attentive and informative; margarita was not sweet but not enough tequila or line; air conditioning was blowing a bit too much.
The food did not quite have the homemade touch we hoped for but we still had a pleasant experience.
Original combinations make this a delicious dining experience. Our waiter Vincent, was attentive without being pushy and got everything to us in a timely manner so we had time to savor every mouthful before the concert
An excellent experience from cocktails to dessert!!!
Cala is spectacular. We have eaten here several times and it has never disappointed. This was a special occasion dinner (birthday, theater) and they had it handled perfectly. Acknowledged the birthdays and made sure we didn't miss our show.
The food is outrageous. Small plates to share. Everything is exquisite. We brought wine but they also have a pretty decent tequila bar
Not a cheap date but worth it.
Portion size poor. Drinks overpriced and wine pour less than standard. 20% tip and 5% health tax automatically added. Would not go back
Wonderful ambiance, amazing food!
The ambiance is really nice and the service top notch, The food is OK, but not more than that and when considering the high $$ there is a sense of disappointment.
The value for the food/drink here given the price point is lacking. When you incorporate the 20% gratuity and the 5% SF healthy fee mandate automatically included in the check, the experience becomes simply unpleasant.
Save your money and visit the chef’s Mexico City restaurant where the flavors, value and experience are infinitely better.
Our first time there. We were late due to traffic, and they were most accommodating. The small plates of crab and of avocado tostados were wonderful. Also enjoyed the Sopas Playados and the Black Cod.
We had an especially attentive and knowledgeable server.
Too loud for normal conversation. Very good service.
The food was really good. The service was impeccable, definitely recommend here for a date night or go with a at least 4 people so you can try everything.
First experience at Cala was fantastic. The waiter's suggestions were all spot on, even though we dined later in the evening (8:30) and some of the menu items were unavailable. The items were served family style and coursed out perfectly, and the cocktail and wine lists were impressive and diverse.
Absolutely wonderful, refined, modern Mexican dining. Very authentic, amazing tortilla, tostadas, and sauces. Mostly seafood dishes, healthy and light but satisfying. Must have Trout tostada, black bean tostada, pipian sauce, ...
Our first visit here with a 5:30 reservation before a 7pm show just a block away, so we planned for plenty of time. Our server was friendly and personable, but we had second thoughts when it seemed she didn't know much about the tequilas they serve. I had some questions about the menu ordered the crab tostada as one of our plates. The three of us ordered a total of four "share plates". The avocado tostada was lovely as was the kampachi ceviche, though all were very small portions and we had a 10 minute wait or more between each plate. We ordered a second round of drinks which took a very, very long time. The camaronilla arrived with three crescents of fried dough filled with a nondescript mix where the carnitas and shrimp could not be discerned - we all agreed it was pasty and not very good. By this time we had been there well over an hour and it had been about 20 minutes since our drink order, so another server finally brought our drinks -- and our original server came by and we asked about the crab tostada. She had forgotten to order them, and we had to hurriedly finish our drinks, pay our bill, and dash out just in time for our show. All in all, we did not have enough to eat and the service was friendly but very spotty. A bill of nearly $240 for three people due to our special-order margaritas which were a shocking $21 each! Not sure if I'd go back here but maybe for a drink at the bar with plenty of time to spare.
Love the service!
Cala was a disappointing experience. There are only a couple of outstanding dishes (the sweet potatoes are a must) on the menu and they are really tough to find amongst the so-so ones. The food took a long time to come out and while we were waiting we tried to change our fish to the rockfish which the waiter said was impossible. This left us stuck with a bland, forgettable, black cod
Disappointing experience at Cala. We were really looking forward to it. The drinks and bartender were outstanding. The food was overpriced for what it was and lacked favor overall. The service was disappointing as well. You could tell our waitress really didn’t want to be there at all and they completely forgot to bring out our main dish. We had to wait about 35 minutes from the time we had our appetizer to when we got our main dish. On top of it we were forced to pay a 20% gratuity already included in our bill, which we did not think was deserved. They did serve us a complimentary glass of cava to make up for it, but it was close to 11:30pm at that time and all we wanted to do was leave by then. What a bummer!
Creative cuisine , with many choices of small medium size and large plates , excellent choice of wines , tempting desserts --over all, a pleasing exploration of tastes in the pleasant atmosphere . We will go there again .
Amazing food, but, like everything in San Francisco, too expensive.
Very courteous staff and excellent food
The food was fantastic... brought my friends from London, who are tough to impress and they really enjoyed it.
Everything was fun playful sophisticated and delicious. The service was efficient and good spirited. Cala is really a gem.
We love Cala and have eaten many memorable meals there in the last 2-3 years. Each time, I think, "This is the BEST!" But our next meal there always tops it. Thank you to the Executive Chef, Chef, kitchen and waitstaff for keeping the food and service always at the highest level. I can't wait till our next meal at Cala!
Service was inconsistent with previous visits. Food was phenomenal.
Top notch authentic Mexican.