Calafia Taqueria: A User’s Guide
Baja-Style Fish Tacos | Salsa Bar | Handmade Tamales | Brawny Burritos | Family Business
To start: complimentary chips and toppings from the salsa bar (try the red and the green)
Entree: one fish taco, one carne asada taco, and one shredded-chicken taco
To drink: horchata
The Vibe: Fun, fast, and folksy. You’ll order at the counter, where faux cacti stand sentry, and then grab some free chips and decorate them at the bountiful salsa bar. A painted señor and señora in traditional Mexican dress mark the doors to the restrooms.
Meet the Owner: With Calafia Taqueria, restaurateur Dominguez Garcia is continuing the family trade. He hails from Ensenada, Mexico, in Baja California, where his relatives have long specialized in cooking fish tacos in the local style: pieces of fish fillet battered and deep-fried, then served with lime and crunchy cabbage.
Tacos and burritos tend to be prepared on the spicy side, so ask to hold the salsa if you’re sensitive to heat. (You can always add a dab later from the salsa bar.)
Calafia opens a little earlier than the average taqueria—stop in at 10 a.m. and grab one of their much-loved breakfast burritos.
Praise from the Press: “Service is speedy and the freshness of the ingredients is unbeatable. Smoky carne asada tostadas, heaping plates of sizzling nachos and super-sized burritos at very low prices make this one a West End family dining destination. We also love the salsa bar, with pickled vegetables and varieties of salsa from mild to fiery.” – Alameda Magazine
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Play a collection of 90 working machines—some dating to the 1930s—at the Pacific Pinball Museum (1510 Webster Street).
After: Catch a local band while sipping locally made craft spirits at The Fireside Lounge (1453 Webster Street).
Planning a movie night? Stock up on all of your favorite snacks and munch and crunch all night long.
More often than not, their patrons leave with the best, delicious meats the city has to offer.
The best kept dinner secret is available here when you take advantage of the convenience of adding frozen food to your diet.
Add a little bit of sweet goodness to all your baked goods for top-notch flavor and form. Pick up your staples at Season to Taste.
Health-conscious eaters will love the wide selection of fish on hand.
Need a sandwich for lunch or toast to compliment your hearty breakfast? Grab a loaf of bread today.
The produce available here is a great side to any meal in need of some fresh nutrients.
When you only have time for a quick lunch during your busy workday, heat up a TV dinner from here and enjoy a quick and yummy meal.
There's no better way to satisfy your hunger craving than with some tasty canned goods from here.
Feeling hungry and creative? Fix up a tasty meal or salad with some oil and vinegar from here.
Get your noodle on! Season to Taste has some of the best and affordable noodle and pasta options in the area.
Yogurt, cheese, milk? Do some or all of these sound great to you? Be a dairy fan and purchase some dairy products. They will keep you happy and healthy.
Cereal doesn't have to be boring! A breakfast box is a great addition to your morning, packed full of flavor and crunchy delight.
With a bottle of water in hand, it's easy to refresh and refuel. Grab a couple drinks from Season to Taste and stay on the go all the time.
If you're looking for a great coffee or tea beverage, the team at Season to Taste will help you out.
Add a little more flavor to your meals with their quality selection of spices and seasonings.
Dial down your thirst with some delicious drinks that are both refreshing and cool.
Don't fret! Parking options are readily available near Season to Taste.
Take your Thai cuisine with a fill of first-rate reviews when you dine at Toomie's Thai Cuisine.
G-free and low-fat are just a couple of examples, come here for a quick bite that will leave you feeling healthy.
Children are more than welcome to dine at this restaurant, where there's something for everyone on the menu.
At Toomie's Thai Cuisine, you can dine with your immediate family and your extended family due to the easy seating for large parties.
The restaurant takes reservations, so you can plan your next get-together ahead of time.
Perfect for an after-work outing, Toomie's Thai Cuisine won't require you to change outfits before dining as the dress here is super casual.
Take the comfort of your own home and add great grub from Toomie's Thai Cuisine to create the perfect night.
Getting your food to go is also an option.
Parallel-parking experts can find room on the street, though patrons also have access to the restaurant's adjoining lot.
Cyclists will also appreciate the plentiful space to lock up their bikes outside the restaurant.
Toomie's Thai Cuisine may cost you a little bit more than some spots, but this deliciousness is fairly-priced (and well worth the few extra bucks).
If you're more of an evening diner, you're in luck. Though all three meals are served, the restaurant's dinner menu will blow you away.
When you want to experience the very best in Thai cuisine, pay a visit to Toomie's Thai Cuisine.
It's easy to enjoy delicious Thai in a low-key setting when you dine at Toomie's Thai Cuisine, so treat yourself today.
Everyone enjoys Thai food, and the food at Toomie's Thai Cuisine will surely have you coming back for more.
So when you're craving the tastes and trends of Thailand, head on over to Toomie's Thai Cuisine.
Deemed "pizza of the year" every year by Bowzer's Pizza's loyal fans, this deliciously-cheesy pizza will have you reaching for seconds, thirds, and even fourths.
Find time to peruse the wine list here — this pizzeria offers a variety of drink options.
Have a few picky young eaters in the family? Not a problem at this pizzeria, where the food and ambience are perfect for family dining.
At Bowzer's Pizza, your large or small group can be seated quickly and comfortably.
Tables at Bowzer's Pizza are available first-come, first-served, so be sure to show up a bit earlier on busy weekends.
The dress code is strictly casual at Bowzer's Pizza, so come as you are (and as you are comfortable).
Catering from Bowzer's Pizza will take your party to the next level.
Sometimes you need food fast, and this pizzeria totally gets it, offering both takeout and delivery.
Drivers should plan to park on the street when dining at Bowzer's Pizza's Park St residence.
If cycling is more your speed, you'll find plenty of space to stash your bike outside the pizzeria.
A typical meal at Bowzer's Pizza will set you back less than $30.
Roni, sausage, and veggie are just a few of the delicious options at Bowzer's Pizza. Taste the shining reviews for yourself when you head to Bowzer's Pizza for a tasty pizza pie.
Find out how many slices you can eat! Bowzer's Pizza's pizza comes with high ratings and a low-key vibe, so take your time enjoying your pie.
Next time you're in the mood for a casual night out, be sure to stop for a delicious pizza at Bowzer's Pizza.
Isn't it about time you stopped ordering just any old pizza place and went with Bowzer's Pizza?
Linguini's Pasta and Vino's piping pizza is just as hot as its ratings, and customers call this tasty spot one of the best around.
Linguini's Pasta and Vino serves up endless healthy meal options.
Pair your entree with a glass of wine or draft beer — this pizzeria has a fully-stocked bar to complement your meal.
Gather the whole family for a trip to this pizzeria — everyone will find something to like (even the pickiest little eater) on the menu here.
Large groups will appreciate Linguini's Pasta and Vino for its ability to seat them quickly.
Perfect for an after-work outing, Linguini's Pasta and Vino won't require you to change outfits before dining as the dress here is super casual.
The food's ready when you are. Come on in or carry out.
Catering makes it easier to organize any event, and Linguini's Pasta and Vino will ensure that it is delicious.
Drivers will be giddy once they hear about the easy street parking near Linguini's Pasta and Vino.
No matter what you choose off the menu at Linguini's Pasta and Vino, you won't completely break the bank with prices averaging around $30.
Some people say that if you've had one pizza, you've had them all. Diners who've tried Linguini's Pasta and Vino's pizza say it is the absolute best.
If you can't get enough pizza, be sure to try the pies at Linguini's Pasta and Vino, which earn ratings too hot to handle.
If you've had a long and hard week, come visit Linguini's Pasta and Vino and enjoy a pizza in a casual atmosphere.
A tasty pizza form Linguini's Pasta and Vino is perfect for any of your upcoming casual gatherings.
Fresh from the oven every time, the insanely-cheesy slices at Alameda Pizza have visitors hooked on five-star reviews.
For pizza or pasta just the way you like it, the pizzeria offers quite the selection.
Keep your diet in check at Alameda Pizza, a local restaurant with gluten-free and low-fat menu items.
The drink list at this pizzeria has everything you need to complete your meal (and your night out).
Bring the whole clan to this pizzeria — kids and parents will love the menu and ambience here.
You won't be able to make a reservation at Alameda Pizza — make sure to plan accordingly.
Whether you're coming from work or a ballgame, the dress code at laid-back Alameda Pizza is come-as-you-are.
Delivery and takeout are also available. You'll be knocking down our door to pick up your food, or we'll be knocking down yours.
Diners that drive to dinner will find street parking readily available at Alameda Pizza's Webster St address.
Alameda Pizza provides ample space for bikers to store their bikes.
Meals at Alameda Pizza are incredibly tasty and reasonably priced around $30.
So who's hungry? The highly-acclaimed pizza at Alameda Pizza is ready and waiting to be served.
Just because Alameda Pizza is quick and easy doesn't make it any less tasty. For some of the most highly-rated pizza in town, swing on by today.
Next time you're in the mood for a casual night out, be sure to stop for a delicious pizza at Alameda Pizza.
Next time you're looking to indulge in America's favorite dish, call the team at Alameda Pizza to help you out.
Most Top Chef finalists launch their restaurant careers right after their time on television ends. Not Casey Thompson—she spent seven years after season three traveling, all the while thinking hard about what she wanted in a venue. She met farmers, built relationships, and finally opened Aveline (plus its cocktail bar sibling, The European) in June. As the result of so much careful planning, the restaurant truly embodies Casey’s vision, both in the space and on the plate.
One key part of that vision? Pigs. Casey loves to use almost every part of them, including the head. In honor of Aveline’s recent launch, we asked her about her fondness for pork, her cooking philosophy, and some of her go-to spots in San Francisco.
GROUPON: One ingredient that crops up on the menus at Aveline and The European is pork. Specifically, pork from the pig’s head—pork jowl, pig cheek, pig ear. What do you like about this ingredient?
CASEY THOMPSON: In general, I love any animal that tastes good from head to toe! As a chef, it’s really beneficial for me to use different parts of an animal that might otherwise be underutilized. It keeps costs down and provides guests with the opportunity to try things they may not otherwise try.
There is a lot more marbling in these parts than you might think, and there are a variety of different textures in specific parts like the ear.
G: Do you think that pig face is trending right now?
CT: I don't know. I try not to pay too much attention to what’s “trendy.” I just want to make food that tastes good, and if it means using parts of an animal that are unfamiliar to most people and [then] educating people about them, I’m happy to do so.
G: If someone hasn't tried any part of the pig’s head, where should they start?
CT: I think a good place to start is with pig cheek—it’s rich and it braises perfectly! Confiting a pig cheek [at home] is easy. The most difficult part is probably finding the product, but your local butcher can help with that.
G: Are there other pig dishes in San Francisco that you like?
CT: The pork at Kokkari is unreal, and Namu Gaji does a pretty impressive job too!
G: Aside from cooking with pig parts, you’re also an advocate for sustainability and the environment. Where does that passion come from?
CT: I have a job that impacts the environment, and as such, I have a duty to make sure that my staff and I do all we can not to add to the overwhelming issues we’re already facing.
I am also a firm believer in good husbandry. All animals deserve to live a good life, especially if they are giving us theirs for nourishment. It’s our responsibility as humans to recognize that.
G: Some of your dishes have original ingredients with a cool, earthy vibe. I’m talking about the "ham snow" and "chicory soil" on Aveline’s menu. Can you tell us more about these?
CT: Environmental elements in a dish add interesting flavors. The chicory soil contains nori, breadcrumbs, candied cashews, and chicory—all pretty earthy, you’re right. Now, the ham snow is highly technical stuff: we freeze ham, grate it over cold amberjack, and call it snow!
G: You’re also creating the menu over at The European, your bar-and-lounge project with Adam Wilson. It seems like the snacks have more of an updated comfort-food feel. Is The European the other side of Aveline's coin?
It absolutely is! There is a secret kid side to me with that menu and, really, it’s us having fun. I do think we have the best burger—it is so good. I want people to use both spaces! Come and eat at The European!
G: To close out, can you share some of your favorite San Francisco spots to grab a bite?
For coffee: Réveille Coffee Co.
For breakfast (and guilty, greasy pleasures): San Jalisco
For lunch and dinner: Kokkari, Kin Khao
For after-hours drinks and eats: Rye, Tradition, Le Colonial
For outdoor dining: The Ferry Building, Slanted Door, Cavallo Point, Coqueta
This interview has been condensed and edited. Photos courtesy of Casey Thompson. The European photo by Andi Fisher.
When you live in a city with so much scenery, eating inside can feel a bit stifling. Here are five beautiful restaurant patios in San Francisco that allow you to order in the great outdoors.
Mission Rock Resort (817 Terry Francois Blvd.)
The restaurant group that owns South Park staples MoMo’s, Pedro’s Cantina, and Pete’s Tavern overhauled Mission Rock Resort in late 2012. Now, it’s a bayside escape with plenty of deck seating, calming ocean views, and easy parking. Try bites from the raw bar or fried seafood for lunch, brunch, or happy hour.
Foreign Cinema (2534 Mission St.)
The most popular tables at this Mission stalwart are in the romantic covered patio. In the evening, artsy or retro flicks are projected on the patio wall while sound can be played through drive-in–style speakers at each table. The movies, however, are a secondary draw compared to the Californian-Mediterranean food.
Waterbar (399 The Embarcadero S)
Waterbar is a perennial Top 100 restaurant, so you can bet on some memorable seafood with views of the bay, the Bay Bridge, and the Bay Lights—not to mention $1.25 oysters every day before 5:30 pm.
Bar Agricole (355 11th St.)
Opened by a collective of the city’s best bartenders and sommeliers, Bar Agricole is led by master drink maker Thad Vogler. Unsurprisingly, its cocktails are just as good as its seasonal food. The space’s award-winning design features plenty of redwood, concrete, and glass, plus a spacious patio that’s covered and heated during the winter months.
Biergarten (424 Octavia St.)
Biergarten takes its name literally—its only seating is outdoors, where all of its Bavarian-style street food is served from shipping containers converted into a kitchen and bar. Brews can be ordered by the half- or full-liter, but considering the long lines, it’s best to get the larger of the two before you squeeze into one of the communal picnic tables.
Photos courtesy of Mission Rock Resort, Foreign Cinema, Waterbar, and Bar Agricole; Biergarten photo courtesy of BarFlySF.
Sushi is not hard to come by in San Francisco, but so much variety means that finding the perfect sushi spot can be a challenge. Here are our picks for the five freshest, most innovative sushi restaurants in the Bay Area.
1. Cha-Ya (762 Valencia St.)
Vegetarian sushi anyone? While that may sound like an oxymoron, Cha-Ya is redefining what sushi means, veggie- and vegan-style. It’s cash-only here, and the wait can be long, but the food is inventive and the service is great. Even meat eaters should enjoy the Cha-Ya Roll: tempura-battered asparagus, avocado, yam, and carrot with Cha-Ya’s special sauce.
2. Minako Organic Japanese Restaurant (2154 Mission St.)
Never tried fried “veggie eel” before? This place has you covered, and it accommodates most dietary restrictions. There’s a vegan menu, a gluten-free menu, animal-product-free tempura, and sushi made with brown rice.
3. Roka Akor (801 Montgomery St.)
The presentation at Roka Akor is out of this world: sushi served on a landscape of salt rocks, ice, bamboo boxes, and light (that’s right, your sushi plate will glow). The tasting menu is a must-try and incorporates a wide range of different fish.
4. Tsunami Sushi Panhandle (1306 Fulton St.)
Tusnami’s classic california rolls are half off during happy hour, but the restaurant is most famous for its combination rolls. Try the Mama San with tempura shrimp and spicy tuna or the Magic Mushroom roll with salmon, snow crab, and enoki mushrooms. Also, consider adding some zing to your meal with sake or wine.
5. Akiko’s Restaurant (431 Bush St.)
Located in Union Square, Akiko’s serves up superfresh sushi—the menu changes daily based on the availability of ingredients. The kitchen focuses on serving sustainable, organic, seasonal, and local fish at high-end prices. The omakase menu will run up to $100 per person, but for sushi die-hards, it’s worth it. If you’re not feeling fish, there are non-sushi items on the menu, too, including teriyaki meats and udon soups.