Restaurants, Mexican
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Photograph: Courtesy Californios

This Mission restaurant from chef Val Cantu is truly a hidden gem. Cantu's cuisine pays homage to his Mexican roots and culinary traditions, while reflecting his ethos as a chef who is always innovating and pushing. The tasting menu is as beautiful as it is delicious, and a fun twist is that you never know what’s coming—the menu isn’t presented until the end. Other twists: there are white tablecloths and refined service, but the vibe is urban, with distinctive artwork and a cheeky soundtrack. The dining room itself is also stylish and a pleasure to dine in. Have beverage director Charlotte Randolph manage the pairings for you since you won’t know what dishes are coming next—kind of like Cantu’s ever-evolving cooking, it keeps you coming back to read the next chapter.

By: Marcia Gagliardi


Venue name: Californios
Address: 3115 22nd St
San Francisco
Opening hours: Tue-Sat 5:30-10pm
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