Calavera Sophina Uong Chris Pastena Calavera

Calavera Awards

Fresh Mexican fare that tantalizes while maintaining respect for traditional cooking methods.
Openings: Lunch & Dinner daily, Brunch Sat.-Sun.

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Calavera, Oakland, CA


Calavera Restaurant Review:


Caged lights hang from an 18-foot ceiling; a waterfall of twinkling bottles of tequila and mezcal cascades behind the bar; and the music of a busy cocktail shaker and the happy hum of excited diners fill the lofty brick-and-woods room. Many hands bring this dream of Michael Iglesias and Jessica Sackler, partnered with Chris Pastena (Lungomare, Chop Bar) to life: from the children who net the grasshoppers that are toasted and served with vibrant guacamole, to the designated tortilla chef cooking with house-ground corn on the wood-fired comal. We taste the ocean in the sweet frothy salt air drinks and the earth in dishes that balance crunch with smoke and fire. We gobbled up ceviche Costeno, halibut ceviche with avocado, salsa and toasted hominy, detoured for cochinita pibil, baby pig tacos made oh-so-tender with Mayan axiote rub, and slowed down for our elegant wood-grilled whole Pacific red snapper circling lambs' quarters, greens and stewed black garlic. We sorted delicate flesh from bones and plucked strewn-about orange cherry tomatoes. Ambrosial goat's milk rice pudding in a saucy puddle, adorned with snappy candied almonds and stone fruit, crowned this captivating Mexican cuisine adventure.

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