Back in November, we broke the news that Mexico City chef Gabriela Cámara planned to bring a new restaurant project to 149 Fell St. Now, we know that she plans to debut her first U.S. restaurant to the neighborhood this summer, complete with back-door taco stand.
The new restaurant, called Cala, will align with Cámara's Mexico City flagship Contramar, a popular sustainable seafood joint that has been in business for 16 years. "We're lucky to be in the Bay," said General Manager Emma Rosenbush, who has already developed a relationship with local seafood vendors.
Cámara will be at the helm of the kitchen, said Rosenbush, working both the back and front of the house. Because she also runs a number of restaurants in Mexico, she commutes back and forth often, but all the techniques, recipes and menu style come from Cámara. Raymond Tamayo, formerly the executive chef at Palmer's Tavern, is Cala's Chef de Cuisine.
The menu will be very straightforward, "unfussy Mexican food," as Rosenbush calls it (think ceviche, pescado and tacos). "It's going to be Mexican food that people don't expect."
Pescado at Contramar (Wayne Marshal/Flickr)
As first noted by Inside Scoop, plans also include "Tacos Cala", a back alley taco stand with separate entrance (on Hickory Street) and different hours from the restaurant. The "Mexico City-style" stand, which won't include seats, will feature tacos de guisado, slow cooked "stews" of vegetables and meats that fit inside a homemade tortilla.
The "puesto"—or little area—will offer a quick way to grab lunch during the work week, with limited hours that reflect the restaurant's location on the outskirts of Hayes Valley. For the moment, tacos will be the only thing on the menu, but expect an expansion of offerings once everyone settles in.
The team has been working to renovate the 3,000 square foot space that was previously an old garage and office space. During the renovations, the team uncovered clerestory windows above the entrance that will become a centerpiece in the new space. “We’re really in love with the building itself, and wanted to keep the integrity of the building to the best of our abilities and renovate in a way that brought it back to its original structure," Rosenbush said.
The space is under wraps for now (Photo: Meaghan Clark/Hoodline)
Rosenbush, who moved to Mexico City in 2011 and met Cámara when she opened her own brunch pop-up, said that the hope is to "create a space with what we’re familiar with in Mexico and bring the outside in."
Cala will be open nightly for dinner from 5pm-midnight, and is expected to seat 85-95 guests. The taco stand will be open weekdays from 10am-3pm. There will also be a Saturday brunch from 9am-3pm, and Sunday brunch from 9am-5pm.
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