Comal Berkeley

A new Downtown Berkeley gathering spot featuring California-Oaxacan cuisine read more...

In a space once occupied by a discount variety store and a bookstore,  we  transformed the 3,000 sf space into a community gathering place and a modern ode to California-inspired Oaxacan cuisine.

Comal’s interior features original exposed board-formed concrete walls, while the original wood lath was saved, cleaned, and reinstalled as a space-defining, prominent decorative surface.The space’s raw, yet refined aesthetic features locally blown glass pendants, custom copper mesh drum lights, and steel bar shelves and stools, all made locally. The back side of utility grade oak flooring was used as a bar wall material. Richmond based Ferrous Studios custom built the bar stools, bar shelving, table bases, and back patio gate and firepit. Robert Trachtenberg of Berkeley-based Garden Architecture, designed and installed the back patio landscape, while his brother, David Trachtenberg designed the Cor-Ten steel facade.

We  asked Helen and John Meyer, of world-renowned audio company Meyer Sound, to collaborate on Comal. The result is the first restaurant to create an optimized aural environment. Click here to read more about this state-of-the-art acoustic technology.

Project Details

LIGHTING DESIGN: Illuminosa Lighting
PHOTOGRAPHER: Eurydice Thomas
SHELL CONTRACTOR: Holland & Harley
SHELL ARCHITECT: Trachtenberg Architects
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Garden Architecture
CUSTOM LIGHTING: Photosynthesis
BDA 2014 Bienniel Awards for Design Excellence
Berkeley Design Advocates Bienniel Award Winner "The interior of Comal is a joyous symphony of line, space, technology, and materials, designed and built in a sustainable and authentic manner."
SF Chronicle Review
The tone is set by the meticulously designed 3,000-square-foot interior, which incorporates reclaimed tables, concrete walls accented with lathe siding, scarred Douglas fir floor from the original 1924 building that originally housed two retail shops, and an open-beam ceiling hung with drumlike copper mesh chandeliers.
SF Chronicle : Meyer Sound
Paluska and Meyer Sound, a world-renowned audio engineering company in Berkeley, teamed up to test a relatively new technology that controls reverberation levels with the press of a button.
"Many people start out with a neutral palette and then stop, producing a space that is modern but not dynamic. Just adding a few more textures and colors—burlap, copper, an amber glow, turquoise blue glass—added layers of dynamism to make this environment sparkle and come to life."
Zagat Review
There’s “great energy” in the air at this “bustling” Mexican in Berkeley’s Arts District, where chef Matt Gandin presents an “upscale”, Oaxacan-focused menu that’s “tasty” and “not formulaic”
Fast Company
John Paluska beta tests sophisticated acoustic technology that can be controlled with a swipe- and could make loud restaurants a thing of the past.  
Meyer Sound's "Constellation System"
With a touch on an iPad screen, Comal's management can maintain the desired level of energized "buzz" throughout the space while still allowing intimate conversations, all regardless of occupancy levels.
Bay Area Bites
...the gorgeous layout and design of the main room, exquisitely designed by the architectural firm Abueg Morris (Nopalito, Roam, Prather Ranch) that incorporated elements of the original Douglas fir beam structure and wooden floors with modern decor and artworks.
Bauer admires the impeccable service, the state-of-the-art acoustics, the “meticulously designed” interiors, and the cocktails — “some of the best  in the Bay Area.”
Comal Video
Watch Interviews with Meyer Sound, owner John Paluska and  Marites from ABMO.