Comal is the kind of restaurant you can’t help but go back to. The menu is too good, and too vast to be fully appreciated in one visit – and that’s just the drinks menu. The sheer scope of the tequilas and mezcals on offer is staggering. And the craft cocktails are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before – even something as ubiquitous as the margarita becomes startling and new. But that’s just how they roll at Comal. Just wait until you try the guacamole.
Chef Matt Gandin – previously known for his stellar work as chef de cuisine at Delfina in San Francisco – is displaying some serious skills in the Mexican cuisine he serves here. You can taste it in the truly superlative sauces, from the moles to the salsas. Even in something as deceptively simple as the house-made tortilla chips, which crisply crumble into layers as you devour them. The tortillas here are also made fresh to order. No detail is too small to have been considered, and then perfected.
But that’s all before you tuck into the meat of the menu. There are enchiladas stuffed with heritage pork and served with guajillo salsa. Wood-grilled rock cod tacos with spicy pickled cabbage and avocado aioli. And even two to three rotating family-style sharing platters, which often includes a 22-oz bone-in ribeye or a whole spit-roast chicken served with fire-roasted fingerling potatoes.
The team behind Comal has done Mexican cuisine proud here. This is not your typical Cali-Mexican eatery – in either the food or the decor. From the 150-seat interiors to the 70-seat beer garden, it’s all smooth lines and industrial influences. Solid beams and coloured or copper drop lights, not to mention the building’s original 1920s hardwood floors, complete the look. And, as an added bonus, you can even hear your dining companions thanks to the audio magic wrought by Meyer Sound, even when Comal is packed (as it is wont to be on any given evening). Speaking of: make a reservation. Berkeley residents already know that this is a restaurant to keep coming back to.