At her Mexico City restaurant Contramar, Gabriela Cámara developed a following among chefs around the world. When she decided to open a restaurant in San Francisco, she moved to that city and spent 2 years perfecting the concept. The interior feels like an urban oasis and the seafood menu features an array of chilies creating harmony in every combination, from trout tostadas smoky with chipotle to cool abalone spiked with serrano cream.
Signature dishes include mussels steamed in masa and a tamal de cazuela with uni and habanero-leek relish.
The doyenne of Mexican cuisine, Diana Kennedy, helped Cámara perfect the menu.
Tacos Cala, at the restaurant’s back entrance, is open weekdays for lunch and transforms into Tapas Cala on Friday and Saturday nights for snacks and cocktails.
Cala, calarestaurant.com (main courses, $16–$39)