Eating Out

Elevated Mexican Cuisine at Californios SF

I’m still kicking myself for not going to Californios right when it opened and the tasting menu was under $60. Four years and two Michelin stars later, I finally got to try this spot.

Many of the rave reviews from people whose opinions I respect were from the earlier days. If the menu were about half the current price (~$200 pre tax, tip, and drinks), I would probably be raving too. I liked the thoughtfulness and flavors, but the level of ingredients and execution were below average for two Michelin stars.

There were some highlights like the Plantain Bread with Banana Butter. The extra buttery rolls were rich with plantain flavor and adding the similarly noted banana butter was decadent joy.

The Flan was one of the best versions I’ve tried, with a perfect balance of creaminess and silky mouthfeel.

The wine pairing was excellent. Each pairing benefited the food on some level for me, with a few particularly standout. The sweeter Arnot-Roberts 2017 Trousseau North Coast paired with the cheese and smoke forward Tetela was one of my favorites.

Most of the meal was fairly forgettable however, and some dishes had serious execution errors.

Tres Frijoles, Chef Cantu’s bean and caviar version of the iconic Oyster and Pearls, was just too salty that it marred an otherwise wonderful dish.

An elevated take on Sope was a dud, with way too much doughy, bland masa that overpowered the trout roe.

The Tai Sea Bream was ridiculously overcooked and tough. And while I appreciated the use of Mindful Meat retired dairy cows for the Carne Asada, the dry, tough meat was not appreciate by my palate.

Service was fine, a little cold, but fine. Timing was fine.

Perhaps I just hit them on a bad night. I saw enough potential and passion in my meal that I would consider revisiting Californios another season.

Californios - Ostiones divorciados (Kushi oysters, passion fruit, jamaica), Chicharron (black barley, smoked goat cheese, chilhuacle amarillo), Chiles en Nogada (queso fresco, pomegranate, walnut), Aqua Fresca (apple, smoked cypress tea)
Ostiones divorciados (Kushi oysters, passion fruit, jamaica), Chicharron (black barley, smoked goat cheese, chilhuacle amarillo), Chiles en Nogada (queso fresco, pomegranate, walnut), Aqua Fresca (apple, smoked cypress tea)
Californios - Yuca - Santa Barbara Uni, avocado, pine nut, serrano
Yuca – Santa Barbara Uni, avocado, pine nut, serrano
Californios - Abulón - smoked abalone, persimmon, shiso, poppy seed
Abulón – smoked abalone, persimmon, shiso, poppy seed
Californios - Tetela - hoja santa, hen of the woods, breakfast radish, atika cheese
Tetela – hoja santa, hen of the woods, breakfast radish, atika cheese
Californios - Pichón - squab, asain pear, salsa adobada, moyoga ginger, sourdough tortilla
Pichón – squab, asain pear, salsa adobada, moyoga ginger, sourdough tortilla
Californios - Hielo - satsuma, tangerine, tarragon
Hielo – satsuma, tangerine, tarragon
Californios - Tres Frijoles - rancho gordo royal corona, moro, & cranberry beans, sturgeon reserve caviar, caramelized shallots, chives
Tres Frijoles – rancho gordo royal corona, moro, & cranberry beans, sturgeon reserve caviar, caramelized shallots, chives
Californios - Ceviche - wild yellowtail, lemon balm, mexican lime
Ceviche – wild yellowtail, lemon balm, mexican lime
Californios - Sope - broccoli, meyer lemon confit, petrossain trout roe
Sope – broccoli, meyer lemon confit, petrossain trout roe
Californios - Caldo de Oro - chicken consommé, Iranian Negin saffron, gooseberry, chickweed
Caldo de Oro – chicken consommé, Iranian Negin saffron, gooseberry, chickweed
Californios - Pescado - tai sea bream, charred ginger broth, winter citrus
Pescado – tai sea bream, charred ginger broth, winter citrus
Californios - Barbacoa - Liberty Farms duck breast, smoked pineapple, mole
Barbacoa – Liberty Farms duck breast, smoked pineapple, mole
Californios - Cono - huckleberry cornet, foraged huckleberries, kenne goat cheese
Cono – huckleberry cornet, foraged huckleberries, kenne goat cheese
Californios - Flan - wild vanilla pompona, pecan caramel
Flan – wild vanilla pompona, pecan caramel
Californios - Pistacho - pistachio ice cream, pumpkin dulce de leche, cointreau
Pistacho – pistachio ice cream, pumpkin dulce de leche, cointreau
Californios - Disgestivo - pomengranate, lime, vermut lustau rojo
Disgestivo – pomengranate, lime, vermut lustau rojo
Californios - Tasting Menu Jan 2019
Tasting Menu Jan 2019

1 thought on “Elevated Mexican Cuisine at Californios SF

  1. I had a really good experience here, but my meal was also a year ago. Lately, foodie friends seem to have mixed feelings about their tasting menu. I will have to head back at some point to try it again.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.