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Mar 4, 2007 09:43 AM

Dona Tomas still going strong, and watch out for Flora opening downtown Oakland

Nice and noisy dinner in Temescal last night.

The portions are big and the atmosphere is casual enough it would be ideal for chowhounding if you are sharing a few botanas, antojitos, ensaladas, sopas, antradas and sides among yourselves. Drink choices are great. More than a dozen cocteles especiales (margarita paradiso, caipirinha, sangrita y tequila...), cerveza (Sol, Tecate, Negra modelo...), 33 tequila choices (divided into plata, reposado and anejo), mezcal (Del maguey chichicapa, Don amada blaco...), wines by the glass and non-alcoholic (hibiscus iced tea, Mexican coca cola, tamarind mineral water...)

4 of us had -

Margarita especial (no pitcher offered)

Sopes de picadillo - crispy sopes topped with mixture of Niman Ranch beef and pork, almonds, raisins, and fried plantains topped with queso & crema 9.95 (What a start to a meal)

Carnitas - tender Niman Ranch pork rubbed with Mexican oregano and slow-roasted with grilled scallions, fresh lime, radishes and totillas served with arroz verde and mashed pinto beans 17.25

Enchiladas con mole negro - enchiladas stuffed with Hoffman gamebirds chicken and cheese topped with a Oaxacan black mole and served with sweet potato puree and sauteed broccolini with chile 16.25

Chiles rellenos con pipian verde mole - roasted poblano chiles stuffed with butternut squash, cheese, thyme & green garlic in Oaxacan style mole made with toasted pumpkin seed served with pureed black beans and housemade tortillas 16.75

Carne asada con chimichurri - thinly sliced grilled Niman Ranch beef topped with a sauce of parsley, arbol chiles, garlic red wine vinegar and olive oil served with sauteed broccolini & fried fingerling potatoes tossed in chorizo 18.25

We didn't get to try their postres or dessert bedidas especiales, as we had to be at Berkeley Repertory Theatre at 8.

I would have gone for flan de rosas - vanilla custard flan scented with rosewater and served with a Mexican wedding cookie 6.95

Local ingredients, organic, healthy, well-prepared and delicious. Too Berkeleyfied? All I know is that I enjoyed the meal, and it was absolutely delicious. What a lively crowd, and a wonderful good-natured guy running the place. Tom Schnetz the owner and head chef (the Tomas part of the restaurant name) said he prefers a "location with some grit and soul". I guess he has mixed feelings about Pizzaiolo (I like Pizzaiolo a lot) having moved in next door. The neck and neck competition can't hurt, though? The team is opening another restaurant in downtown Oakland in a few months, and it will be called Flora. Location? Across from the Fox Theatre. A much needed addition to the downtown Oakland scene. Tom will then be managing 3 restaurants. I wish them luck.

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  1. I was curious about how Pizzaiolo was affecting business at DT. All I can say is that when Fairviewgal and I walked by DT after dinner at Pizzaiolo, DT was as packed as ever. The fact is, DT had been turning people away (and probably still is, judging from the number of people waiting for a table Friday), so I don't think some of that business moving two doors down has hurt. Plus, the success of Pizzaiolo (and Bakesale Betty's) has raised the profile of the whole area for the foodie community, bringing in what appears to be more than enough customers for both places.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Yeah, I think that it's only positively impacted the business of both places -- I know that I've definitely planned with friends just to go down there and go to whichever place had the shorter wait, which can be either place, depending on the night.

    2. <<Carnitas - tender Niman Ranch pork rubbed with Mexican oregano and slow-roasted with grilled scallions, fresh lime, radishes and totillas served with arroz verde and mashed pinto beans 17.25>>

      This for me sums up the problem with DT: Carnitas are not slow-roasted pork in my book or the book or any chefs I know. And what are "mashed pinto beans"? Refritos?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Earl Grey

        Their carnitas have never seemed like roast pork to me, they looked and tasted like they'd been simmered in pork fat as they should be. Nice and crispy.

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