Every magazine gets their annual turn to declare their favorites among the nation's crop of new eateries, and this week we get Food & Wine's 2016 Restaurants Of the Year list, which features two Bay Area spots: Cala and Locol. Restaurant editor Kate Krader fell in love with Mexico City chef Gabriela Cámara's "sensational Mexican cooking" and "outstanding tacos" at Cala's back-alley taco stand, and she writes that she's "outrageously proud" of Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi's effort to bring quality, healthfulness, and value to fast food first with their Watts location of Locol, and with the second that just opened in Oakland.
Cala has won tons of praise already, including from the Chronicle's Michael Bauer, who gave the place three and a half stars out of the gate in November. Krader praises Cámara's use of local ingredients and creative spins on Mexican seafood, like trout tostadas with fried leeks, and abalone-and-oyster aguachile. And she calls out the fact that Cámara's hired a number of non-violent felons to staff the restaurant, noting that staffing has been an issue all over San Francisco and she felt like she wanted to give them jobs.
As for Locol, she loves that nothing on the original menu was over $6 (the bowls at the Oakland location are actually $7), and even if not everything was healthy (there are fried chicken nuggets, etc.), "the food at Locol feels good for you on many levels."