Chef Gabriela Cámara is known throughout Mexico for her refined command of seafood, at both Contramar and MeroToro. The former is arguably Mexico City’s best landlocked seafood restaurant, and the latter is a deep exploration of the cooking of Baja, both surf and turf.
Cala is Cámara’s first restaurant in the U.S., and it opened softly last night in San Francisco’s outer Hayes Valley on Fell Street at Van Ness.
Cámara was in the kitchen this evening the whole time I was marveling at the gorgeous space, preparing course after course of deeply satisfying food. At one point, her five-year-old son waltzed in to the dining room and began charming total strangers.
The menu is currently very small to allow the staff to get their bearings. Any confusion that arose was handled graciously and gracefully by a warm and welcoming crew. It’s clear that they are part of the mission to bring Cámara’s bold seafood recipes to the northern California coast.
While she arrives with accolades from other luminaries, including Diana Kennedy and Alice Waters, it is Nicholas Gilman, Mexico City-based blogger and author of Good Food Mexico City, who argues that Cámara is one of a handful of women who have kept the culinary traditions of Mexico alive while innovating and exploring her own style.