2020 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley CA, 94704 (510) 926.6300
Sunday thru Thursday 5:30-10pm
Friday & Saturday 5:30-11pm
Front bar opens at 5pm nightly
Sunday thru Thursday 5:30-10pm
Friday & Saturday 5:30-11pm
Front bar opens at 5pm nightly

Comal’s “Oaxacan-style” Grilled Corn featured in East Bay Express

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Comal’s ‘Oaxacan-style’ grilled corn was recently featured in East Bay Express as one of “three great corn dishes to try before the season ends.”  Click here to read the full article.

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New Cocktail: Zip Line

Friday, August 29th, 2014


Finally, a drink I don’t have to begin describing by saying “we worked backwards on this one.”  Andrew and I first tasted a new organic coconut-rum months ago and immediately knew we had to use it – it’s delicious.  We also immediately knew it would fit perfectly with crushed ice and plenty of Matusalem rum in the “seasonal patio cocktail” slot on the cocktail menu.  These have typically been fruit-driven, beach drinks: refreshingly easy and a bit of a guilty pleasure.

Seeing no reason to deviate from this model, I went straight for the guava, which has proven to pair well with coconut in our most popular agua fresca.  Next came the kaffir leaf, which pairs well with guava, but had the unintended effect of making things taste like Thai food – tom kha gai soup specifically.  We pulled the ginger element, dialed back the kaffir and went back to the drawing board.  I tried various teas and pineapple juice to cut the guava’s thickness, but it wasn’t until I saw the pan of watermelon scraps in the prep kitchen that everything sort of clicked.

I try and re-appropriate anything the kitchen is using in their dishes whenever possible and this seemed like a no brainer – blend the scraps, save the juice.  Lime and Falernum provide the brightness element with a touch of tiki on the back end.

Remembering a conversation Andrew and I had last summer about a salted melon garnish, we ended up using our marinated watermelon cubes from the salad as they’re dressed with all things delicious: lime, mint, chile arbol and salt.


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Platos Fuertes Spotlight: Rock Cod “Zarandeado”

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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(above: Chilipepper Rock Cod “Zarandeado” – pictured here with grilled spring onions and asparagus)

A few years before Comal opened, I was feeling a little burnt out from my previous job, having gone a couple of years without taking significant time off.  What I needed more than anything was a “lay on the beach” type of vacation.  I remembered that I had won the use of a condo in Puerto Vallarta at a silent auction the previous year, and decided to cash it in.  With a former roommate and fellow chef in tow, we headed off to Mexico.

Whenever I travel, especially abroad, eating the local specialties is always an important part of the experience.  While in the taxi en route from the airport to the condo, I asked the cab driver what local dishes should not be missed.  Immediately he responded that we should make sure to have a fish “Zarandeado”.

“Zarandeado” refers to the action of rotating the fish over the wood coals while it is cooking.  What makes this preparation truly distinctive is the rub that is smeared on the fish.  It is a mayonnaise-based marinade that has some flavors that one would expect to find in Mexico, and others that are truly surprising.  Traditionally it is flavored with tomatoes, chiles and garlic.  It also contains soy sauce, an ingredient introduced by the sizable Chinese immigrant population in Puerto Vallarta.  This rub creates a fantastic crust as it caramelizes the skin while the fish is turned over open coals.  The best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta for seafood are right on the beach where the fishermen dock with the daily catch.  One can select an extremely fresh fish, have it cleaned, rubbed, and on coals over a pit dug in the sand within minutes after it has been landed.

This was the inspiration for the dish that we run at Comal off of our wood grill, showing up on the menu most often during the summer months when we have our best local catch.  It is accompanied by grilled vegetables and, like our other “Platos Fuertes”, it comes with rice, beans, tortillas and salsas.

For those who want to try making it at home, check out this recipe in Food & Wine that describes our take on this classic dish.


Rooftop Garden Update

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Lots of activity in our rooftop garden these days!  We’re harvesting tomatoes and gearing up to harvest much more in the coming days, including various chiles, chard, hoja santa, epazote and more.  Thanks again to Josh Arnold for his tireless efforts…


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Above: The rooftop in full swing.
Above:  Amelie lends a hand with tomato picking.
Below: Poblano chiles nearly ready to pick.

Platos Fuertes Spotlight: Roasted Turkey

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 5.04.13 PMMany of us who live in the East Bay have stepped outside in the morning to find wild turkeys hanging out in our front yard.  Turkeys are native to North America, not only were they an important food source for the Native American tribes, but also for the indigenous peoples of Mexico.  While many consider chicken mole to be a quintessential Mexican dish, the truth is, chickens did not exist in Mexico until introduced by the Spanish after the conquest.  In Oaxaca, for thousands of years,  “guajolote” or wild turkey, was the traditional protein to be served with mole negro, and it continues to be served today as special dish on festive occasions such as Christmas.

I have always felt that turkey is an under-appreciated meat in American restaurant culture.   Other than our yearly Thanksgiving dinner, it rarely is served other than as a sandwich filling.   Perhaps it is because it is a larger bird, many chefs find it difficult to create a dish that is appropriately proportional for an individual diner, but with a menu that emphasizes sharing with our “platos fuertes” section, I saw a perfect opportunity to get turkey on the menu.  My thought process was to both keep things traditionally Mexican by serving our roasted turkey with a trio of our moles, while accompanying the main dish with a Mexican spin on a traditionally American vegetable: collard greens, braised with bacon, habanero chiles and lime.   Of course, as do all of our “platos fuertes”, it also comes with rice, black beans and tortillas.

It has been really fun to see this dish that germinated from a simple idea develop a cult following among our guests, earning a regular spot in our daily rotating menu.  I just hope that the plump Tom that was giving me the evil eye this morning from my front lawn isn’t plotting his revenge.