Saturday 23 September 17, we arrived San Francisco in the afternoon. Despite the lack of sleep, we were so excited about the long-anticipated evening meal at Californios later that night. We love Mamasita that is our experience of good Mexican food being offered in Melbourne. The Michelin starred Californios is renowned for the creative modern Mexican cuisine. The new menu is designed on monthly or weekly basis depends on the seasonal produce sourced from the local supplies. You will probably notice that I love modern fusion food if you have been following my published foodie journey for the past 18 months. Californios is definitely an outstanding restaurant of modern fusion food.
Californios is located in the Mission District. During our taxi ride, we found the traditional Latino eateries alongside the cocktail bars, live-music clubs and chef-driven restaurants. Mission District is an area full of vibes at night. The entrance of Californios is camouflaged into the dark facade of the building which is such a contrast to the neighbouring light-coloured buildings. The dark coloured scheme continues into this petite 22-seats restaurant featuring dark wood panelled wall and dark ceiling. With the addition of the dark caramel tufted-leather banquettes, sparkling chandeliers and white tablecloths, the room looks so luxurious. On the opposite side of the room housed the open kitchen and chef counter seats where you can see all the cooking actions. We sat comfortably at the back table with soft leather chairs... let the good food starts.
Some photos that I captured here may not do justice to the beauty of the dishes due to my amateur photography skills. One thing is certain, all 16 dishes on the tasting menu are perfectly executed with amazing flavours and textures.
Masa pan, pineapple - this beautiful looking starter is made of corn flour (masa) and pineapple
Chicharron, cured wagyu - crispy pork rind topped with cured wagyu and micro herbs
Langosta, lobster - mini taco filled with lobster meat and flowers. The taco is made out of a particular type of corn flour which gives the dark colour.
Cangrejo, crab - mini tortilla with crispy soft shell crab and nori. Again, the corn flour used to make the tortilla is a special type which has a lightly green tone.
Hielo, ice - the melon flavoured granita and a baby zebra cucumber
Jitomate, tomato - this meaty tomato simply seasoned with salt and olive oil is a refreshing palate cleanser
Ceviche, coconut - white fish fillet with coconut, lime and chilli
Aguachile, summer vegetables - cold scallops and vegetable soup
Tamale, black bean - corn flour and black bean puree wrapped in banana leaf
Caldo, broth - fish broth reminiscent of the Japanese dashi
Tres frijoles, three beans - three different beans puree topped with caviar and gold leaves
Pescado, trout - pan-fried crispy skin trout fillet on fish broth
Carne asada, wagyu - A5 wagyu grilled on the Japanese binchotan
Pichon, squab - grilled squab and pickled vegetables
Huarache, goat cheese - fried masa topped with goat cheese and figs with a drizzle of honey
Guava blanca, white guave - white guava sorbet and cream cheese
Fresa, strawberry - strawberry ice-cream
Digestivo, digestif - a glass of sweet sherry to conclude the meal
My favourite savoury dish - Tres frijoles, three beans - three different beans puree topped with caviar and gold leaves. I had never tasted bean puree which is so divine.
My favourite dessert - Guava blanca, white guave - white guava sorbet and cream cheese. I love ice-cream and sorbet, this one is exceptional on flavours and texture.
The 16-courses tasting menu comes with wine pairing. The eight glasses of wine come from different vineyards of Mexico, Austria, California, France and Italy. All matched perfectly with the food.
We had a fantastic meal at Californios. The innovative and clever use of high-quality ingredients by Chef Val Cantu has given a new dimension to the traditional Mexican food which he based on. Delicious food with beautiful presentation, elegant room with seamless service... it was a night to remember for another of our wedding anniversary celebration indeed. We will definitely go back to Californios in our next visit to San Francisco. Hope you will have the same enjoyment of the beautiful food there too!
3115 22nd St, SF, CA 94110