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    Peace, Love, and Piroshkis at a Gracious New LGBTQ+ Eatery

    By David Landis, The Gay Gourmet–

    Finding a new restaurant before others discover it is thrilling. When that restaurant is owned by two queer women, employing folks who are gender fluid, and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community, it’s even better. And when the food tops the bill—well, that is a home run.

    That’s how I would describe DACHA Kitchen & Bar, the terrific new California/Russian restaurant at the corner of Sutter and Larkin in San Francisco.

    I recently visited this new inviting eatery with my husband and Soviet émigré-turned-Bay Area resident Katia Bloom. After enjoying our meal, I had a revelation. Rather than just serving up my opinion, wouldn’t it be better to have someone who intimately knows well-executed Russian cuisine to be my guest columnist? So, I asked my foodie pal Katia for her musings. All I can say is, I think we have a new Gay-Friendly Gourmet reviewer in the making. Here are Katia’s thoughts:

    “Have you ever had that magical experience of walking into an establishment, and catching that ever-rare feeling of coming home? We’re all in search of those effervescent butterflies that start to flutter when you simply know this will become a place you’ll come back to again and again, because it’s just that great. This is exactly what the owners of DACHA Kitchen & Bar set out to accomplish. They achieved it with flying, rainbow colors. DACHA is entirely female (and queer) owned, which is wonderful and rare these days. Married couple and founders, Suki Skye and Katya Skye, explained that inclusivity is at the heart of the restaurant’s mission. (The other two owners are Chef Katya Pervushina and Tanya Ivanovich, who also obviously share this vision).


    That mission is rooted in some very unfortunate real-world experiences as Russia-born Katya needed to seek asylum in the United States to escape the oppression faced in that country by all those who identify as queer, gay, lesbian, or anything else that isn’t 100% straight. Point being, you can feel this desire woven into the very fabric of the restaurant’s foundation. This restaurant is the embodiment of LGBTQ+ friendly and accepting of whatever brand of human you are on any given day.


    In addition to this fabric of tolerance and love, let’s talk about the actual fabrics and décor. This restaurant is gorgeous. Designed by Suki, the atmosphere is a perfectly curated balance of beauty and comfort. The walls have both exposed brick and dainty murals; the bathrooms display a luxe look that rivals the Four Seasons; and the intimate lounge off the full bar screams elegant romance. In addition to the restaurant’s overall cozy, yet contemporary, vibe, the service, price-point, and ambiance make this the kind of place that’s perfect: a great destination for a slightly off-the-beaten path meal when you want to impress your friends with how worldly and in-the-know you are, surprise your sweetheart with solid and unpretentious relaxation, or simply come home.

    Author Katia Bloom with Sean Dowdall and David Landis

    And have no fear, for those of you looking to shake it, DACHA puts on a monthly Borsch & Beats gathering the last Friday of every month, with a DJ and party where they are also raising money for Ukraine. Why? Because this is a place with heart above all else. They also host Drag Bingo every third Thursday (here’s looking at you, Katya Smirnoff-Skyy), and public mixology classes on the second Saturday of each month. So, there’s something fun for everyone to enjoy at this new spot. By now, I’m guessing you’re curious about the food.

    As the Gay Gourmet’s honorary Soviet-born guest columnist, I, along with the rest of the former Soviet bloc emigres of the Bay Area, have been desperately waiting for a proper Eastern European restaurant to open. I’m obviously going to be both particular and critical of what’s on the menu because these are the things I grew up eating, so the bar is very high.

    Katya Skye, Chef Katya Pervushina, Tanya Ivanovich, and Suki Skye of DACHA Kitchen & Bar –SCREENSHOT/VIDEO BY VAS KINIRIS

    To say that DACHA gets it right is the tip of the iceberg. The food is on another level. It rivals the Michelin-starred or should-be Michelin-starred restaurants that we all know and love. Chef-owner Katya Pervushina (no, that’s not a typo as, indeed, two of the owners are named Katya) isn’t your typical creator of Eastern European cuisine. You know: the menu that’s simply unpalatable because of its content of cabbage and mayo.

    Chef Katya is classically trained with one of the most famous Russian chefs, Alexei Zimin, at his French cooking school in Moscow. She continued her training at elite restaurants in both the Netherlands, and as a private chef in California. So, if you’re imagining only herring covered in layers of creamy, fatty substances, or plain potatoes smothered in butter, this is quite the opposite. Having been to the restaurant many times, I haven’t had a single dish that wasn’t mouthwatering. The syrniki brulée (cottage cheese pancakes served with custard cream and jam) at brunch will revolutionize your relationship with cottage cheese. And the scrumptious mushroom soup at dinner will make you appreciate that not all mushroom soups have to be in cream form. You simply can’t go wrong. I’m getting hungry again just writing about these tasty dishes! If you go for brunch, in addition to the syrniki, the latkes with red caviar, and the mortadella toast are must orders. I didn’t know things like this could be accomplished by the simplicity of whole wheat bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, and mortadella!


    That’s the thing about DACHA. It’s country-style Eastern European cooking at its most innovative and finest. After all, “dacha” is the word for summer cottage in Eastern Europe (if you’re an oligarch, it rivals a mansion in Atherton, and if you’re a typical Soviet person, it was more akin to a summer shack than a sprawling country estate).

    For dinner, the chicken liver pâté is just like mom used to make it. Even the Gay Gourmet himself couldn’t help but exclaim that it’s exactly how his mom Laverne Shirley used to do it. This is authentically how liver pâté is supposed to taste. The porcini mushroom soup is getting another mention because it is life changing. For the main course, the goulash will melt in your mouth for those cold rainy days where you want a cozy stew.


    If you want something very traditional, but equally delicious, try the garlic chicken thighs with buckwheat. They’re a throwback to coming home after a long day at school and feeling that warmth that only mom’s cooking can bring. (Although after discovering DACHA, I’m nervous to take my kids there, because they will realize that Mama Katia’s cooking just can’t compete with that of Chef Katya).

    A meal isn’t complete without dessert, and the pavlova will make you question why you haven’t been paying as much attention to Eastern European cuisine with the fervor it deserves. Then there’s the simple apple pie. You may presume that the green scoop of ice cream on top is a pistachio ice-cream twist on the standard vanilla ice cream because Chef Katya is trying to impress. While a reasonable guess, you would be wrong. It’s actually tarragon frozen yoghurt, and this may be the best apple pie you’ll ever have. Like Laverne Shirley’s version, a DACHA-style apple pie isn’t overly sweet, the apples are chunky, and the crust isn’t too refined. It’s country dessert at its best.

    We haven’t yet mentioned mixologist Eva Kowalchik and her creative concoctions. The Gay Gourmet’s husband, Sean, ordered the Swallowtail (bourbon, brandy, maraschino, china china, and walnut bitters) and proclaimed it “a winner.” But the eclectic cocktail list also includes: a gin-forward Monarch with mezcal, lemon, and celery bitters; a Sulfur with tequila, apricot brandy, pear syrup, agave, and lime; and, from what we’re told, one of the best Espressotinis in town. Best of all, you can either enjoy your drinks with dinner at your table, at the convivial zinc-top bar, or in the adjacent cozy, private lounge.

    And the service at DACHA? In a word, divine. Server Tony Ramona (who uses every pronoun in the book) is professional, informative, and best of all, glamorous!

    Trust me, put DACHA at the top of your ‘must visit’ dining destination list, and you won’t be disappointed. Eastern European culture is full of superstitions, and one of them is that, when you stand between two people with the same name, you make a wish. As a Katia who stood between Owner Katya and Chef Katya, instead of wishing, I took in the feeling of joy at discovering this absolute gem in San Francisco. It’s not very often that I would feel completely comfortable going to eat a meal by myself, and I would do so at DACHA in a heartbeat. So, if you see me there, come say hi. We’ll find another Katya for you to make your very own wish come true.”

    DACHA Kitchen & Bar:

    (And check out this short but sweet video of DACHA, including a glimpse of David Landis and his husband Sean Dowdall! Thanks to Vas Kiniris and NextAgency for the video.)

    Katia Bloom is a multilingual lawyer, dancer, coffee enthusiast, budding author, and Soviet émigré who is perpetually on the hunt for the authentic food she grew up eating. You can contact her at: 

    David Landis, aka “The Gay Gourmet,” is a foodie, a freelance writer, and a retired PR maven. Follow him on Instagram @GayGourmetSF or email him at: Or visit him online at:

    The Gay Gourmet
    Published on February 22, 2024