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Dona Tomas - disappointing

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I know this has been said on the board, but for some reason, I was still surprised. I finally made it to Dona Tomas after years of wanting to try it and liking Tacabuya very much over the years. Maybe we ordered wrong.

My husband and I were seated for a 5:30 reservation yesterday, Friday. In the restaurant, we were the only ones there so far. We ordered the scallop sopes, carnitas, and the swordfish dish. The scallop sopes were great! I wish I had ordered another for my entree! 6:30 our entrees had not yet come, and I was sitting right in front of the open kitchen. Our food arrived, and both of our entrees were cold. Not even warm to touch, including the beans. Something may be off in the timing - I saw the servers waiting while they had a few plates. We requested that our food be hot, and a server - not the original helped us. The food came out-- carnitas were dried out not, but at least warm. Our food didn't come out together. The food was ok- but not special or even very good. Again, based on two entrees only- but for the price, Nopalito in SF tops it in quality and definitely in price, and we like Tacabuya too from the same owners of Dona Tomas. The bus service at Dona Tomas was very good, the rest left us with a bad feeling. We did not hear one apology. To wait an hour for entrees, and to have the food arrive cold on a Friday 5:30 seating is bad!! We're glad we finally made it though. We live in SF so it has been years of delay.

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Dona Tomas
5004 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

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  1. I had a similarly disappointing experience my one and only visit to Dona Tomas. I got a scallop dish as well -- in some sort of butternut squash puree -- and thought it was awful. A ceviche was so lime-y that it was purely unpleasant. The server was bizarrely quiet and shy, and our plates were whisked away before finished. we sat around with the dessert menu, waiting to tell our server we were not interested in dessert, for over 20 minutes.

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    Dona Tomas
    5004 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

    1 Reply
    1. re: roserunner

      We recently had a similar experience with the service. I actually caught the waitress roll her eyes at us when we asked for a new napkin due to a little spill. We had to flag her a few times for basic things like refill on water, etc. With a 5:30 res, the wait for our food was oddly long. Nearly an hour from ordering to receiving entrees. The food was fine, but the experience as a whole was not worth the cost. To sum up: decent food, amaturish service, many better places to spend your money.

    2. I was always curious about Dona Tomas...but never that curious given the reports. Thanks

      1. My own Dona Tomas experience is limited to a single visit, so it's certainly possible I just went on an off-night, but it sounds like others have stumbled across similar "off-nights" as well. The carnitas I ordered were perhaps the single worst example I can recall having anywhere - cold, stringy, and utterly dried-out. I seriously wondered if they were leftovers from the night before - they were that bad.

        It puzzled me that the food was that lackluster, given that I really do like Tacubaya quite a bit - you'd think their "flagship" would at least maintain that level of quality. *shrug* just means I go next door to Pizzaiolo if I'm in the vicinity and craving a bite to eat.

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        Pizzaiolo
        5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        Dona Tomas
        5004 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

        Tacubaya
        1788 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

        1. We were there in the last few weeks for dinner with some friends who had never been there before. Food was quite good and drinks we as tasty as usual. The only odd thing about the dinner was the timing and the server's response to a question about the timing. Our apps came before our cocktail order. I didn't want to order dinner and have that arrive before our drinks so I told the server we'd order our mains when your drinks arrived. When I inquired about when that might be, I got a very vague answer.

          I think the food and cocktails are good and sometimes I'm in the mood for Dona Tomas. It is pricey and loud and there in a lot more competion then when they first opened up so I think they should work to improve their service and timing.

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          Dona Tomas
          5004 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

          1. I have been to Dona Tomas three or four times, the first visit several years ago, the last few times in the past year and a half. It seems to me that the service and the cooking are off more often than on nowadays. I won't return.*

            *I always say that but have several friends who live in that neighborhood and it's an easier weekend walk-in than Pizzaiolo. I live in SF too.

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            Pizzaiolo
            5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

            Dona Tomas
            5004 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609