Cala

4.6
710 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 710 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
82% of people would recommend it to a friend
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CK
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I have a family that consists of 2 Vegetarians, I Omnivore, and a Vegan! We had the most amazing meal and we shared everything! My husband didn't order any meat and he didn't miss it either. Cala makes lots of mini-plates so we shared everything. The food was tasty and amazing. Many items we needed only one order but ordered two of others. The nopal and fava bean salad was amazing! The staff is honest about how much is enough food and we finished all of it except 1 hunk of charred little gem salad. I really enjoyed their house made ice cream with toffee was out of this world.

A
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 5

We were expecting upscale, but our group of four all felt the quality and presentation of the food was not special or elevated enough for the prices. Much was tasty, but the trout tortillas were this weird blobby consistency. The ceviche and empanadas were fine--nothing special enough to merit the pricing. Definitely not going back.

F
New York Area
8 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Terrific dinner for seven of us. Able to share lots of really good food. Rockfish and sweet potato dishes were amazing, but all of it was great.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A pleasant surprise. Our waiter comped us a dish we'd ordered but took 30 minutes to come to our table. We didn't complain but he noticed we were waiting and said it was too long a wait. Class!

x
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 2

We arrived 10 mins early and was immediately seated. Our server was helpful present and knowledgeable. Suggested a few cocktails which were really god. Throughout the beginning of the meal, service was attentive and positive. After our third dish the bus person (and not our server) presented our final dish (sweet potato w/bone marrow and salsa negra dish), with no explanation of what was what - whereas every table around us had that courtesy. When I requested, nicely, for a clean plate, that same bus person cleared the table with absolute annoyance - stacking the plates and silverware on the table in front of us. Then, for the rest of our dinner our server was nowhere to be found. Once he finally cleared the table I requested a dessert menu, which unfortunately came after I asked the host, with an apology ‘sorry I forgot.’ The cocktails were promising, some of the dishes were good, but unfortunately the service blemished my experience.

C
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Order the Sweet Potato with bone marrow - it's perfect to share for 2-3 people.

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

The food was amazing, and staff were very helpful in accommodating dietary restrictions.

AB
1 review
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I first learned about CALA after watching the Netflix documentary. I knew I had to try it.
It was everything I imagined it to be. The food was most excellent. And the customer service and attention to detail made our experience top shelf. We plan to come back and visit again soon.

MC
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We loved our meal this past Sunday at Cala! The food was delicious, our servers were wonderful! Thank you

OT
Phoenix
1 review
Dined on August 10, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

It was good, but I wouldn’t say exceptional. Doesn’t stand up to all the hype... hype that makes it difficult to get a reservation. I would choose another restaurant as opposed to eating at 10 pm again. Food was good, service was very good, restaurant was nice. Definitely enjoyed it, but would wait until I could get a regular dinner time reservation if I went again.

Q
San Francisco
30 reviews
Dined on August 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This restaurant is walking distance from the Civic Center and Orpheum theater. Outstanding creative cuisine serving family style small dishes to share. They use Meyer Sound Labs (super high end) to control noise and music in their restaurant. We could talk and hear ourselves without the din of every other table around us. This made it an amazing experience.

OT
Berlin
2 reviews
Dined on August 9, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

After tasting, I don’t really understand the hype around the sweet potato.

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

Small portions, good flavour but overpriced. No wifi available a bit disappointing.

KB
1 review
Dined on August 8, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Food was innovative, and well presented. As a non-drinker, I was happy that there was interesting non-alcoholic choices. The only dish that didn’t wow me was the charred sweet potato. While its appearance is a spectacle, it was rather bland. The seared bass in broth was the outstanding dish of the evening. I appreciate the fact that a service charge is included, so that all staff benefit, and I didn’t have to do percentage math at the end of the evening

ET
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We went with a group of six, wonderful to be able to try many dishes. Every dish was great but the stand-out was the whole fish - Rockfish a la talla. It came with two different sauces and you make a taco with the fish, delicious! Also loved the sopes, sweet potato and trout tostadas. Service was friendly and attentive. We will return!

CD
1 review
Dined on August 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious, freshly prepared food. Delicious fruit drinks. Very sophisticated ,modern restaurant.
Food was prepared quickly. Loved the black, white interior. We celebrated a birthday. Wonderful experience.

BB
New York Area
5 reviews
Dined on August 5, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 5

Lovely food, but just not much of it. The food is supposedly "family style" but only if you are a family of chipmunks! Tasty stuff, but they could be more generous with portions, given the price.
Table for 4 was very small. I knocked over glass of wine, and staff cleaned it up pretty quickly, but no one offered to refill it.
Service was pleasant but somewhat indifferent.
I think I'm spoiled because I live in Portland where there are many foodie choice, and much more value for your buck!

s
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on August 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

the food was inventive and delicious and we loved the bright space.

OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on August 3, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Amazing food but $$$$

y
Phoenix
5 reviews
Dined on August 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Senesational flavors. Innovative cuisine. Good veg options but primarily seafood

C
San Francisco
71 reviews
Dined on August 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Cala has wonderful innovative, flavorful food. The format of many appetizers, less main courses and the suggestion of sharing dishes is great for tasting many of their offerings.

A
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on July 31, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 3

Although servers were delightful, service was slow and unevenly paced. Very noisy. I’ve had better experiences here in the past.

AA
1 review
Dined on July 31, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious and excellent quality but pricey. Elegant setting. We had dinner before a theatre performance and they made sure we made it on time.

NQ
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on July 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I absolutely loved our visit to Cala. The food is delicious, fresh, and seafood-forward. The playing and artistry behind each dish is impressive. The service is phenomenal. I felt really taken care of. The atmosphere is beautiful, comfortable, and not fussy (which I love). We didn’t feel rushed at all and felt very welcome there. Overall, I had a great experience!

LM
Minneapolis
2 reviews
Dined on July 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It’s hard to be surprised in SF, but this restaurant more than surprised our entire group. Every dish was outstanding! Take the recommendations of the waitstaff. They know their stuff. Well done!

VR
London
1 review
Dined on July 28, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 3ambience 4

Overrated place. Expensive and arrogant place poor value for money. Half the dishes were good, the other half totally disappointing.

JJ
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on July 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

All of the waitstaff and bartenders were particularly friendly (in a good way—I felt like I was among friends.) and attentive.

OT
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on July 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent all the way around. Just spectacular experience. Started with the amazing staff, continued with the food and and atmosphere and just kept going. Loved it.

AS
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

Went w my Mom and we loved it! Good food, (mussel tamale was outstanding) great bevys and service.

j
Mexico City
1 review
Dined on July 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Some of the best service we’ve encountered in a long time. I really enjoyed Cala. Thanks!

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Outstanding service, food and atmosphere.

CP
New Orleans
8 reviews
Dined on July 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Incredible upscale Mexican food! No burritos or chips and salsa here! Chef Gabriela has brought her take on real Mexican flavour to the unique menu at Cala!
Try the sweet potato entree and you will be both surprised and pleased.
Great experience!

JR
Kansas City
3 reviews
Dined on July 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing. Lives up to the hype.

OT
1 review
Dined on July 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a wonderful meal at Cala. Our server was able to guide us through the menu. The ambiance was perfect. The food was delicious. Can’t wait to come back.

R
San Diego
116 reviews
Dined on July 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

this was my 2nd visit to Cala while on business in the Bay Area. same as the 1st time, loved my Mezcal Margarita; excellent wine service; and delicious food. i highly recommend the whole fish, excellent preparation and love the 2 sauces.

AN
1 review
Dined on July 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Back after a 1 year - still doesn't disappoint. Despite not being a fish eater, this a place I look forward to visiting from London. Trout tostadas and lettuce gems are to die for.

RS
1 review
Dined on July 23, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Really great quality food but not very interesting.

OT
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on July 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very nice atmosphere..... casual feel but very well thought out and well executed menu. I will be back

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 22, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Overall very good, one of our most anticipated apps was missed by the server, for a 20% tip included as part of the bill I would expect flawless service. Otherwise, we liked the food, it’s not fancy but that’s what we appreciated. The ambiance was great and service friendly. Great selection of food and drinks. Hard to find parking but we had earlier reservation so that may have limited street parking availability, maybe better to Uber. Pricy. Would return.

R
Denver
3 reviews
Dined on July 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was absolutely amazing. Very unique and creative, even for San Francisco! The service was great and the atmosphere was very cool.

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