Fix a festive menu with two types of tacos, a citrusy salad, a creamy cake, and more.

Sunset Margarita
Annabelle Breakey

Of all the restaurants that have come and gone in the Bay Area over the past few years, one that really stings is the loss of Oakland’s Doña Tomás. Run by legendary restaurateurs Dona Savitsky and Thomas Schnetz, the restaurant revolutionized elevated Mexican dining when it opened in 1999, and broke hearts when it closed in 2019. 

Fortunately, there are still ways to enjoy the flavors Oakland diners enjoyed for 20 years. Dona Savitsky has two other East-Bay eateries: Berkeley’s Tacubaya and Doña, in Oakland. The pair also wrote a cookbook together, Doña Tomás: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking, which was published by Ten Speed Press in 2006 but you may be able to find a copy out there.

Or you can put together this easy make-ahead buffet menu, inspired by the cookbook. Most of the recipes were specially created by Schnetz for Sunset.

The heart of the spread is a pair of taco recipes, one offering garlicky shrimp, the other chicken in a crisp shell. Scale them up or down depending on how many guests you’re expecting.

Fill your buffet table out with a salad of roasted beets and oranges—that’s a combo unusual enough to make up for the straight-across-the-plate choice of tacos at Cinco de Mayo. Put out a big platter of taquitos and watch them disappear no matter how many you make. End the fiesta with Schnetz’s tres leches cake with raspberries. This versatile dessert, good at just about any occasion, mixes moist cake with cream, caramel, Mexican spices, and fruit for a light-tasting yet incredibly satisfying treat.

Say Salud with These Drinks

Starters and Appetizers

Main Courses


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