About Town: Dona Savitsky
Ask San Francisco residents where they go for enchiladas with mole or carnitas, and they are likely to name an eatery or taqueria in the city’s Mission district. They are equally likely to spontaneously provide driving directions to Oakland’s Doña Tomás. Co-owners Dona Savitsky and Tom Schnetz opened the restaurant in the city’s Temescal neighborhood in 1999, and the spot—known for its beautiful outdoor patio—has been a local favorite for over 15 years. The Mexican restaurant (Savitsky learned to cook regional delicacies after taking courses with Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayless) allowed the two founders, both longtime East Bay residents, to develop a small food-centric empire close to home that now includes Tacubaya (a Berkeley taqueria), Xolo (an Oakland taqueria), and, in Oakland’s Uptown district, Flora, a restaurant with classic American fare in the Oakland Floral Depot building, and neighboring bar, Fauna. This summer, Savitsky’s original eatery is hosting a regional food series held on the first Wednesday of each month with dinners highlighting dishes from the Yucatan and Guadalajara still to come. When she’s not running between restaurants, Savitsky is most likely to be found at one of these East Bay haunts.
By Elizabeth Varnell
COSECHA Great Mexican food, especially Dominica Rice‑Cisneros’s pipian verde mole with chicken. Hardly anyone really makes pipian (a pumpkin seed mole) because it’s more obscure in the mole department, but hers is delicious.
COLE COFFEE Good old-fashioned dark roast coffee! I can’t stand the hipster fruity light roasts. It has a nice outside area, which is especially pretty in the fall.
BEAUTY’S BAGEL SHOP Montreal-style bagels (no puffy fakes here) and all the fixings. The space is cute, it’s always busy, and it’s owned by a nice young couple who care about food and service!
ALAMEDA ANTIQUE FAIRE The giant antique fair at the old Alameda Naval Base is too great not to mention. You can get anything there from furniture to vintage clothing.
CHAIRMAN FOOD TRUCK The baos here are so unusual and tasty. I always get a couple of the chicken buns when I visit the antique fair.
MARIN SUN FARMS BUTCHER SHOP This is a great shop in Rockridge with helpful butchers, sustainable meats, eggs, and house-made frozen meat stocks.
PIZZAIOLO This popular neighborhood restaurant in Temescal has excellent California Italian food, great cocktails, and a bustling atmosphere. Everyone comes for the pizza, but everything else on the menu is not to be missed.
MAPLE STREET DENIM Owner Julie Harleman stocks quality denim and is an expert on fitting. The shop, located in Old Oakland includes jeans for men and women.
MOUNTAIN VIEW CEMETERY I love going for a run or walking around here. It’s very beautiful and not creepy.
Pictured: Dona Savitsky, co-owner of such notable Bay Area restaurants as Doña Tomás, Tacubaya, Flora, Fauna, and Xolo.
Photo by Kristen Loken