The TT 46

Gabriela Cámara

Cala and Tacos Cala, San Francisco, CA
Photo: Yvonne Venegas

Why she killed it in 2015: Acclaimed Mexico City chef Cámara's first restaurant north of the border, the seafood-focused Cala, was one of the most anticipated openings of the year. Along with Enrique Olvera at Cosme in New York, Cámara is helping elevate Mexican cooking in the U.S. But she'll never forsake tacos. Behind her restaurant, there's a small take-out taqueria, Tacos Cala.

How would you describe your food? "High quality ingredients in simple, flavorful preparations."

What's your signature dish? "Tuna tostada, which now at Cala in San Francisco has become a trout tostada."

Favorite meal of 2015? "A rabbit ragù with fresh pasta I made at home."

What's the most underrated ingredient, and how do you use it? "Nopales and prickly pears, the fruit they give. At Cala, we use nopales in a salad with tomato, goat cheese and parsley salsa verde, and prickly pears in an agua fresca."

What's your biggest kitchen disaster on record? "When we had just opened Contramar, we had a flood. Horrible smelling sewage water was coming in from the drains and getting all over the restaurant. We had to evacuate the place, and it was bad. Really bad."

Go-to hangover food? "Usually, I want fresh fruit juices. And . . . huevos rancheros."

Find Cala on DINE.

Next Chef
Get the Tasting Table newsletter for adventurous eaters everywhere