Cala

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4.6
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622 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. 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 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 622 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
4.6
food
4.5
service
4.6
ambience
3.9
value
Noise · Moderate
83% of people would recommend it to a friend
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HR
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined a day ago
Overall 4food 4service 2ambience 4

Food was overall quite good. All small plates were incredible, but the cod was bland and underwhelming. Absolutely terrible service, which was explained once we realized the tip was included.

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F
San Francisco
40 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious!

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

Great experience after seeing the Netflix documentary on the restaurant and Contramar! Had heard about Cala several years ago but never made it out to the city to dine.

Amazing experience and service was exception, delicious food — we had the Kampachi ceviche, roasted sweet potato (it was our favorite of the night — we’d buy the bone marrow salsa negra if you sold it by the jar), pork tamal, and roasted Codfish. The house made tortillas were to die for - we asked for more with each dish. So good.

Can’t wait to come back with more friends and try the weekday tacos!

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BG
San Francisco
21 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Delicious inventive food and great service. We very much enjoyed the Kampachi ceviche, the Black cod en pipián with grilled onion, the grilled squid & Yukon potato salad, the spicy mezcal cucumber cocktail, the flan w/honey & cappuccinos. The Sopes with smoked lingcod and pickled onion would have been so much better had the lingcod had the flavor of the smoked mezcal. All in all a wonderful meal well worth the price especially knowing we're contributing to our fellow humans earning and being paid a living wage. Thank you Gabriela for brining your beautiful food and restaurant to my hometown San Francisco and for working tirelessly to effect change in criminal justice reform. Everyone should be so fortunate to be given a 2nd chance.

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M
Montreal
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Delicious food, love the seafood focus, and some of the best service I’ve had in a long time—warm, friendly and very attentive without being pretentious.

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a
Atlanta
8 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had one of our favorite meals in a long time at Cala! The food was creative, flavorful, clean, and fresh. Beautiful presentation. Great drinks. So good we came back for tacos for lunch the next day!

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e
San Francisco
58 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

I have wanted to go to Cala for a long time but only recently had the opportunity. The food exceeded my expectations. My friends were there solely on my recommendation and were also very happy. It is a perfect place for pre SF Jazz shows or the Orpheum.

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t
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our visit to Cala was memorable. From the moment we arrived to when we left we enjoyed ourselves. The entire evening was perfect. The recommendations from our server were spot on in terms of specific dishes and the overall amount of food our party should order. The pace in which the items came to the table was great and we never felt rushed. Overall this was the best dining experience I have had. I would highly recommend you visit if you have a chance. I look forward to my next visit.

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MA
Austin
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Absolutely a great place. Great food and service. We let the waiter choose the food for us.

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PD
Central Coast
2 reviews
Dined on June 16, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Glad the place got a bit loud as the evening evolved as we had a 14month old boy with us.
Staff was great with him and us. Food exploration ! I will return, and we will try the Rockfish, Camote and Tamal if they are still on the menu.

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SO
1 review
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

Very good service and great ambiance but the food was over priced for what you get.

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JP
San Francisco
19 reviews
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A+ Mexican restaurant. One of my favorites in San Francisco

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GZ
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 13, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Contemporary take on traditional flavors . Some people might not like the small portions, but I see it as an opportunity to try more dishes.

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Q
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Simply AMAZING. Authentic Mexican and healthy. Professional and polite wait staff. Get a reservation, grab a friend and ENJOY. Try the Mezcal Margarita!

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j
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 11, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 2

Horrible service, overpriced, and 25% mandatory tip. I'll never return, and I'll never recommend.

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LL
1 review
Dined on June 11, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 2ambience 3

Lackadaisical service. Food too expensive for what it was. Have eaten at Contramar (the chef's Mexico City restaurant, which was a hundred times better. And much better value, so it may be worth flying there and having lunch there.

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PB
1 review
Dined on June 11, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 5ambience 2

Best Mexican food I have ever had but SF was 95 degrees that day and Cala has no A/C so there we were in formal attire for the opera, sitting in a pool of sweat in the 95 degree restaurant

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MS
1 review
Dined on June 10, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 3

Extremely expensive for what it offers.
Food is nothing special. The tamale awful, the sweet potato with bone marrow the same.
Never again.

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PL
Denver
57 reviews
Dined on June 10, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

The menu is a great read- for only 2 people choosing was hard. I down rated a little because we ordered for one of our first courses what we thought would be a mushroom quesadilla appetizer and got what looked and tasted like rather leaden empanadas instead- took extra care of the fat and carb part of the menu! Closer questioning of waitstaff would have resolved that I suspect. Perhaps because the tip is built into the bill, the waitstaff played hard ball with food and drink and we were encouraged to order more food than we needed. We avoided most of the alcoholic blandishments and the sugary drinks but had to say no a lot. In general though the food is excellent and if you know the drill and what you want you can dine well and probably less expensively than we did- by not over ordering and convincing the staff that no thank you means no —not now not ever.

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JB
New York Area
1 review
Dined on June 10, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

GREAT Drinks- the trout was too fattty- the sweet potato was AMAZING. Main call out - it was a VERY hot day and even hotter in the restaurant- forced me to get that 2nd delicious mezcal drink.

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LT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on June 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food, great service. Everyone was knowlegable and ready to help.

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KC
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Special occasion upscale Mexican restaurant.
I'm from Mexico City and I can tell this is as authentic as any restaurant in CDMX.
Love the food and service.
K

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JC
New York Area
1 review
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 4

Great in general but I'd expect more for that price range and mandatory 20% gratuity.

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C
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic experience all around.

The food was delicious, well prepared, authentic Mexican with the proper sophistication.

Servers were professional, polite and helpful ( without being pushy ).

Wholeheartedly recommend.

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S
Kansas City
3 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

If I had it to do over I’d have a drink and the squid plate at the bar and leave dinner to somewhere else. Good food but so pricey and was only super impressed with the squid and the mezcal margarita.

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ES
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 5

We ordered the caviar sopes ($38.) what arrived was two tiny sopes with barely a schmear of
of caviar. Ridiculous. Then we ordered the squid dish which should have been callid a potato
dish with a sprinkling of squid. The food was delicious but portions so small the menu should
be called a children's menu.

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JM
San Francisco
51 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Please change you plate sizes. Juggling dishes and glasses on the table really detracts from dinner. I would suggest bigger tables but the room is already very crowded and I assume the number of tables is based on profit/loss issues.

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JJ
San Francisco
39 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It’s difficult not to review this restaurant without using superlatives, but this may have been some of the “best” food I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Tucked away behind an unassuming building facade, the dining experience inside I would rank among the top restaurants in the world. The staff was very friendly and professional, the ambiance was a chic industrial setting, and the food plating and presentation and taste were impressive. The cocktail and food menus were well curated, but the standout dishes for our table were the abalone tostadas, grilled oysters, the sweet potato with bone marrow mole, and the black cod. In short, I would highly recommend Cala for a special dinner.

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JM
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Expensive restaurant serving gourmet Mexican food. Great service, if over attentive. (e.g., they kept trying to take away our plates and wine glasses, even though we weren't finished.) Seems to cater to the young tech worker crowd.)

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

We eat out frequently and aren’t easily impressed. We lived every thing about this restaurant. Delicious and somewhat unusual food and drinks, wonderful service. It is a bit pricey but you get what you pay for.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great service! Staff very knowledgeable of menu/drinks. Food was amazing.

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OT
1 review
Dined on June 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excelente lugar para probar comida mexicana revolucionada. La atención impecable, un must cuando se esté en San Francisco.

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MM
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on June 2, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Great mexican restaurant, not the classic food but a great modern seafood twist. Excellent decoration. The oysters were superb! A must in San Francisco!

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m
San Francisco
38 reviews
Dined on June 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

The food is so good and so unique here as is the service. We had just seen the documentary on this restaurant and her other restaurant in Mexico City, so we were happy to be there. Not our first time. We enjoyed everything about it. Loved my drink too with mezcal.....really smokey and good! Would recommend this restaurant to anyone who love good innovative food!

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MS
1 review
Dined on May 31, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very good ambiance, everyone one was super attentive.

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AR
San Francisco
20 reviews
Dined on May 31, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

CALA IS A LOT OF FUN! The food is great the ambiance is terrific and the servers are most friendly and work hard to please everyone. All very much appreciated!

Lydia Titcomb

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JL
Amarillo
1 review
Dined on May 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Quite possibly the best meal of my life. Our bartender, Orlando, walked us through everything we asked about on the menu and was very helpful with drinks. Words cannot do this place justice. It was an incredible experience and we will always remember it.

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a
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on May 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Thoroughly enjoyed it

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LC
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on May 29, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 3

Food and ambience were good. Drinks were amazing. Service was on the slow side. They were packed, and we were at the communal table but our server was struggling to keep up.

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A
Central Coast
19 reviews
Dined on May 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Been here many times. This last time was just great. Food was fantastic and the ambiance for a group was really wonderful

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