Comal Matt Gandin Comal
2020 Shattuck Ave. (Addison St.)
Berkeley, CA 94704
Cuisine: Mexican
Downtown Berkeley's be-there-or-be-square hotspot puts a savvy spin on regional Mexican dishes both classic and obscure.
Openings: Dinner nightly
Comal, Berkeley, CA

Comal Restaurant Review:

The earthy fare enjoyed by campesinos south of the border for centuries gets dressed up and brought to the nonstop party that is Comal: nonstop because the menu changes every single day, party because the large space (its patio alone occupies 2,500 square feet) became downtown Berkeley's hotspot almost the minute it opened. Comal's ever-shifting array of authentic but unmistakably localized regional specialties is a virtual backcountry tour of Mexico, with special emphasis on Oaxaca: chilled English pea-pasilla chili soup; duck-and-mole enchiladas; creamy flan with kumquat caramel. Each day's menu lets you discover dishes as-yet-unfamiliar in the States --- such as the pre-Hispanic Oaxacan masa turnovers known as tetelas and a ground-pumpkin seed/ground-grilled eggplant dip known as sikil pak. The familiar classics (tacos, tamales, quesadillas) sport slyly inspired fillings: rabbit tinga, wood-grilled rock cod and Berkshire pork al pastor. (Query as to spice levels; our tamale was unexpectedly incendiary.) A full bar spotlights drinks made with tequilas, the origins of which staff can discuss at length, and includes house-made sangritas (not to be confused with sangría) to complement tequila shots. Service is keenly attentive, with staff instantly available to answer questions, provide extra utensils or make adjustments.

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