Without a doubt Cala has been the most hyped up restaurant in San Francisco since its opening last fall.
After getting a glowing review by food critic Michael Bauer, people have been dying to go here to try chef Gabriella Camara’s take on Mexican cuisine (she has two restaurants in Mexico City). However, I’ve been hesitant to try Cala for quite some time now due to mixed reviews on Yelp but I finally decided to go here to see if it really lives up to the hype. The menu is heavily seafood based, which I was actually surprised by for a Mexican restaurant.
The trout tostada was probably my favorite dish of the entire meal; crispy fried tortilla with thin slices of vibrant trout, creamy avocado, and crunchy sweet fried leeks. Just really simple delicious flavors.
Next, the gordita de pescado was tasty but lacked a little something. The filling had a mixture of creamy beans and small chunks of white fish encased in a crunchy tortilla topped with pickled radish and pickled red onions which gave a necessary acidic component.
Now the tamal de cazuela was unfortunately a train wreck for me. On the bottom of the dish was basically a Mexican version of grits or polenta, which had zero flavor. Literally tasted like nothing, no joke. On top was a charred habanero leek relish which also lacked any flavor and had a burnt taste, and not in a good way. The uni on top was tasty but once again none of these flavors came together or really worked in my opinion.
Next, the baked sweet potato was nothing special and the accompanying bone marrow salsa negra was a bit too salty.
The last savory dish, the opah salpicon, was actually really tasty. Tender pieces of opah fish with tart tomatillo, sharp onion, and aromatic cilantro, all tossed in a citrusy light dressing.
I’m really happy that the meal ended on a high note with a simple but well executed flan de coco. Super creamy and velvety sweet flan topped with toasted coconut shavings and sticky tart candied orange peel. I could have easily eaten two!
My expectations for Cala were pretty accurate; I knew some dishes were going to be delicious while others were misses. I feel like this restaurant in particular doesn’t live up to the hype so sadly my rating is a 7/10.