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Oakland’s Doña Tomás is the antidote to Taco Bell: Mexican slow food, made painstakingly by hand, using only seasonal, sustainably grown or raised ingredients, including Niman Ranch meat and Hoffman Farm poultry. Chef-owners Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky opened their bright, airy Oaxacan-style eatery in 1999 to great acclaim, and they’re still doing things right. The seedy Temescal block the restaurant is located on has grown up around them and is home to a flock of good casual eateries. You won’t find burritos on the menu here. The frequently changing roster of dishes includes a variety of moles; quesadillas oozing fillings as varied as earthy huitlacoche (a corn fungus) or queso Oaxaca, onion, and epazote; wonderful, house-made corn tortillas and salsas; and outstanding margaritas. The carnitas can be uneven—a little too dry at times—but when they’re good, they’re very, very good. Service is efficient and friendly, the atmosphere convivial, the bar lively. And dining alfresco in the courtyard (there are heat lamps) is an all-too-rare treat for East Bay residents this side of the tunnel. Dinner Tues.–Sat., weekend brunch.
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