Cala

4.6
450 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.

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 every day from 11 am - 2 pm. Unwind in the evening with Cala's sangria, mezcal margarita or other cocktails. Vegetarians will love the sopes playeros with the restaurant's "midnight" black beans. Past 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.

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 450 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
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
90% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 17 hours ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was delightfully surprising, the service was perfect, and the ambiance was lively but intimate.

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OT
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Creative, delicious cuisine. Friendly, knowledgeable staff - happy to help and make great recommendations. We were thrilled.

Tostadas with lingcod and fried leeks were killer as was the “small gems” with the charred sweet potato 😋

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HT
Atlanta
1 review
Dined on January 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

By far the best meal I had in San Francisco. It’s a very warm and inviting place with professional service. The food itself is very fresh and inspired! I will be back!

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TN
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on January 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Excellent, innovative, cuisine with creative presentation matched equally by the ambience. Mezcal lovers paradise. Highly recommended.

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D
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Cala is underrated, not because it doesn't get good ratings, but because it is one of the best non-Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco. My wife and I enjoyed three of their small plates and one "entree" for dinner. Each plate could have been a course in a "nouvelle cuisine" restaurant, and all were innovative, flavorful, and fun. Our entree was the Sea Bass, which was actually a bass (unlike "chilean sea bass" in most restaurants), delicately prepared and delicious. Make sure to save room for terrific desserts that go way beyond flan.

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e
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Mexican fusion kitchen - pricy, but worth it - fresh and tasteful culinary creations. Bright and open ‚lofty‘ floodplan and ambiance. Great service. All you want to make it a perfect evening.

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OT
1 review
Dined on January 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Good sizeable not too heavy portions, something differentiating

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JB
Denver
16 reviews
Dined on January 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Best creative delicious Mexican cuisine I have ever had!

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JJ
1 review
Dined on January 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food and incredible concept. The wine director Mark guided us perfectly recommending bottles that matched not only the food but our palletes perfectly! INCREDIBLE!

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JS
Chicago
163 reviews
Dined on January 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Faced with a delectable array of menu options and many choices to make, we asked our server to make the selections. Each of the 15 plates was remarkable. Excellent flavors and textures with impressive variety. Cala is highly recommended.

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JM
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on January 7, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Delicious cuisine and creative cocktails at a somewhat high price for portion size.

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

Love this place! Cala never disappoints us. We arrived for a 10pm Rez at 9:25pm because the show let out early. And although the place was completely full and busy they said with a smile “Not a problem” and we were seated by 9:35pm. Consistently spectacular food, seamless friendly service and a gorgeous atmosphere.

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PM
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on January 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We loved it — my friend so much he went back the following night!

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s
San Francisco
28 reviews
Dined on January 4, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Very good food. The most unique dish was the sweet potato with bone marrow jam. That was outstanding. Service was decent but not great.

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g
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on January 4, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 2

inattentive service. Trout and avocado tostadas were tasty, but crazy expensive. the Opah main dish was just a few thin bits of sautéed fish on top of a mound of salsa. The fresh corn tortillas served with it were delicious but overall the plate was not a good value. They add on 20% service charge to every bill—and though they tell you they’re going to do it, the note is in tiny print at the bottom of the menu and we didn’t see it, so it came as an unhappy surprise, especially since the bill was so over-priced to begin with. They removed it when we complained but it left us with a bad feeling. We won’t be back.

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OT
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on January 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

CALA was a surprise to me. Although I was expecting a delicious meal I wasn’t expecting such subtle Mexican flavors mixed so beautifully. We had the caviar sopes and the abalone. So satisfying and yummy. The lingcod sopes with the pickled onions were perfection. But I couldn’t get enough of that sweet potato with bone marrow. I love charred food and I practically ate the entire thing myself! For dessert we had the coconut flan and we fought over the last bite! The restaurant was crowded but the noise level was not bad. Could be the high ceiling. The only distraction was our waiter who was very nice (too nice?) stopped and asked us how we were enjoying our meal like 8 times interrupting our conversation and asking when I had a mouth full of food. Awkward. But the food!? So good.

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RF
Hawaii
7 reviews
Dined on December 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

Great dishes and knowledgeable service . Noisy tho.

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OT
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on December 30, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

A foodie delight. For me, underwhelming with a few wonderful tastes & flavors. Left hungry, but understood the experience, attentive service and clean design.

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P
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on December 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing, memorable food. Can’t wait to go back!

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DE
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

The food at Cala's is simply wonderful. A cornucopia of tastes served tapas style. Service was good. Seating a bit cramped. Wine menu was excellent. Definitely a place that is fit for foodies.

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JD
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 5

Had a friend coming back to SF for a visit and wanted to wow her with a great meal. Have dined at Cala prior to this a couple of times and loved it. Came in early so it was nice and chill, quiet with plenty of room. The waitress even moved the tables next to ours further away so we didn’t feel squeezed in. Dishes were recommended and I had my earlier experiences to draw from so we made our choices and had a couple of great cocktails. Of the 5 dishes we chose, 4 were just mediocre and 1 was basically pretty tasteless. Dungeness tostadas were kind of large and unrefined. Mushroom quesadillas were gummy. Citrus salad was bland. Opah dish was not pretty and average in taste, corn tortillas were great though. I could have eaten more of those and been satisfied. Palanqueta was pretty good but hard to eat. Guittard chocolate ice cream it came with was yummy. I do hope it was just an off night. Would still go back because I love what the chef has shown of true Mexican food.

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OT
Dallas
4 reviews
Dined on December 27, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 2ambience 4

Food was great, but the experience was ruined when the bartender argued with my wife about her drink being too sweet. In most to all cases this would be fixed by the bartender not being offended and just either fixing the drink or getting the patron something else. Pretty ridiculous situation that management should know about and coach the bartending staff on.

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NY
New York Area
6 reviews
Dined on December 24, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Great service, but otherwise not super memorable - the fish was excellent, the sweet potato was messy and could have made it myself. The tostadas were nice too - otherwise nothing super memorable. The service is on point though and they all know their stuff and work as a team. I would say to the restaurant - aim for some 'wow' factor and make me have a silent moment with your food.

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UB
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on December 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing time at Cala! Always worth it for the food & service. Can’t recommend enough.

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RM
1 review
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I was eager to visit Cala after dining at Contramar in Mexico City and it did not disappoint. I will absolutely visit again my next time to San Francisco!

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DR
San Francisco
22 reviews
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 3

Food is good, but almost $70 per person for Mexican food?

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L
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The food is superb, the ambiance is upbeat, and the service is fabulous. The intention is to share plates, which creates a family style dining experience.

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MK
1 review
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A wonderful place where you feel everyone is truly interested in what their doing. Our waiter had a vast knowledge of the ingredients, fish and their origin. Truly enjoyed it.

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LO
San Francisco
18 reviews
Dined on December 21, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 4ambience 3

I am sure it's a great restaurant, i just didnt like it. It's very dark--i couldnt find one spot to fix my lipstick. There is no actual coat-check--you just leave your stuff with the girl who takes you to your table and she keeps an eye on it. I couldnt understand the names of the items on the menu, so out of 3 dishes we ordered, i had no idea what to expect. I didnt like any of the food. Lastly, the bill came with an already added gratuity of 18-20%. Service really was excellent--they even asked us if we were going to a show and needed to be out by a certain time.

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E
1 review
Dined on December 20, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful food and service in a classy setting. We loved it!

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OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on December 20, 2018
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 3

Waited over an hour for food to arrive

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OT
London
6 reviews
Dined on December 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Outstanding dining experience

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b
San Francisco
26 reviews
Dined on December 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Warm, homemade tortillas are provided with earthy roasted sweet potatoes and flavorful salsa to create your own wrapped treats. The service was extremely attentive and friendly. I loved that the small plates could be ordered in with the correct number of pieces for our table - for example regular order is four but we could get six quesadillas - very accommodating. The drinks were extremely well done. I look forward to returning.

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m
San Francisco
34 reviews
Dined on December 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Good service, great food, and nice ambience! Will definitely go back!

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OT
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on December 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Loved everything about it!!! How have I waited so long to come here? Food and drinks were delicious!

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ZD
Hawaii
1 review
Dined on December 16, 2018
Overall 1food 4service 1ambience 4

This was not our first time at Cala, as we have previously had a great experience and the food is always delicious. However, on this occasion we unfortunately received the absolute worst service from the manager. My husband and I had received a gift certificate as a wedding gift back in July, and decided to save the dinner for after the Nutcracker. My sister had told me the gift card was under our name at the restaurant, so when our bill arrived we told the server such. He went to check and brought over the manager to assist. The manager seemed to be instantly accusatory and mistrusting. He initially said he even remembered my sister calling about this gift card before going to check to find it. When he came back, he said there was no paper trail and acted as though we were trying to scam them out of the amount of the gift card, despite us explain they ran my sister's credit card so it was she who would be out the money, not the restaurant. He then came back to confirm when it had been purchased and when we said July, he reacted as this it was absurd we were only now coming in to redeem our dinner. Once my sister was able to find and send me the gift card, the manager thought we had forged it and asked the server to keep rescanning it to make sure it was real. He then did not even apologize once we had paid. I have never been treated so poorly and for no reason what so ever. To assume we were lying and forging was ridiculous and hurtful.

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OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on December 16, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 4ambience 1

The communal table is packed waaaaay too tightly for comfortable dining. Great food that’s difficult to enjoy when a stranger is inadvertently elbowing you throughout your meal.

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MR
San Francisco
23 reviews
Dined on December 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The service was perfect and Drew our server made the double date with old friends even more special! Thank you!

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DS
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined on December 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

This was the first time to eat at a tapas style restaurant for most of my party of eight. So we asked our server if she would order for us. She ordered 3small bites, 3medium bites and 2 entrees for us. The food was exceptional, especially the seafood dishes. I’m sure we will be back.

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H
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 11, 2018
Overall 1food 3service 1ambience 2

Server was terrible

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