Comal, which opened on May 4 in downtown Berkeley, has already created a buzz in the city. Photo: Tracey Taylor

2020 Shattuck Avenue, between University and Addison
Berkeley CA, 94704
Comal Berkeley
Open for dinner daily

This place has been buzzing since day one, and it looks like it will be a new and successful venue for downtown Berkeley. The space is beautifully designed, with reclaimed wood and hard and shiny surfaces — unfortunately this translates into lots of noise when the crowds are there. There’s an open kitchen where you can watch a team of at least eight cooks orchestrating your meal. The large service staff is speedy, informed, and personable — you feel welcome from the moment you arrive.

The food is inspired by Latin America, with a large number of small plates, all moderately priced, and a few more pricey larger plates. Everything is quite delicious with a wonderful freshness of flavors. The chips and guacamole are a terrific way to begin your meal.

However, probably the best feature of Comal is the cocktail, tequila, and Mezcal list — a dizzying array of choices, and definitely the drink of choice here, although there is also wine and beer.

If you order a number of dishes and a few cocktails the bill does add up, but this should not deter you from trying something new and delicious in Berkeley. If you do not want to sit at the bar or at the counter top community table, reservations are definitely recommended.

Lucille Poskanzer is the co-editor of  “Restaurants in the Berkeley Area” (read about the guide in our February story). Also, read Berkeleyside’s April 30 feature on Comal, including an interview with its owner, John Paluska.

Want to get Berkeley news on your iPhone? Download the free Berkeleyside iPhone app.

Freelance writers with story pitches can email