Californios Val Cantu Val M. Cantu Californios


3115 22nd St. (S. Van Ness Ave.)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Cuisine: Mexican / California
Chef-owner Val M. Cantu presents a multi-course tasting of Mexican fare in the Mission district.
Openings: Dinner Tues.-Sat.


Californios, San Francisco, CA

Californios Restaurant Review:

Chef Val M. Cantu, his wife and maître d' Carolyn Cantu and her sister, beverage director Charlotte Randolph, have created a unique modern Mexican dining experience in an unexpected corner of the Mission. The only option is the chef’s tasting menu, which offers surprises: the vaguely-worded document doesn’t actually arrive at the table until the conclusion of the meal. The unknowns are exciting, though, so there’s no need to worry. The tostada, with nixtamal and PEI mussels, evokes the familiar notes of classic taqueria fare with unique twists of flavor and texture. A dish called simply “frijoles” comprises humble heirloom beans prepared three ways and layered with shallot and garlic relish; it somehow manages to be the richest and most luxurious item on a menu that includes smoked venison saddle. The gorgeous space is dark and moodily chic, with vibrant paintings, Deco light fixtures and a warmth that evokes an artist’s fashionable living room. Randolph’s wine pairings from small producers the world over are daring and fun. Staff is warm and friendly. Putting oneself in their capable hands is nothing short of an adventurous pleasure.

Padma Lakshmi recipe

Try this healthy snack from "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi. Get the recipe.