Food & Drink: Island Bowls

Ohana Acai Café combines tastes of Hawaii and Marin

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Todd Donaldson, of Fairfax’s Mana Bowls, brings his acai bowls to Corte Madera for the newly opened Ohana Acai Café. Photo courtesy of Ohana.

San Anselmo resident and Marin native Todd Donaldson brought his acai bowls to Fairfax five years ago when he opened Mana Bowls with a partner. This month, he ventures out on his own to open a second location—Ohana Acai Café in the Marketplace shopping center in Corte Madera.

It was during a trip to Santa Barbara with his wife that Donaldson had the idea to bring the South American berry concept to Marin. Not surprisingly, acai, with its abundant health claims, quickly became a favorite fruit among the health-conscious in the ’90s and was frequently referred to as a “superfood” throughout health-obsessed Southern California.

“I’m not going to pretend it’s a cure-all,” says Donaldson, who explains that it’s the high level of antioxidants in these berries that grow wild in the Amazon rainforests that make them so appealing.

Much like the bowls in Fairfax, Donaldson has given them whimsical names—this time with a Hawaiian theme. Ohana translates to “family” in English, and Donaldson’s Makai, Hanalei and Islander bowls give a nod to the islands. Most bowls are sweet and include the acai berries—deep purple and mildly flavored, more fruit and granola. A savory option, Vitalize Bowl, includes acai, kale, spinach, chia seeds and nuts.

Despite the Hawaiian theme, Donaldson is trying to keep it local. He’s featuring Marin Kombucha on tap, and will also look to nearby producers like Taylor Maid. Paintings from a Bolinas-based artist adorn the walls, and the open space is light-filled and welcoming. It helps that Donaldson greets customers with a smile and offers samples of acai for the uninitiated. He has his hands full between opening a new café, working at the Fairfax location and maintaining his real estate appraisal business. An avid surfer, Donaldson even manages to get in the water when there’s a swell. Perhaps it’s all of the acai bowls that he consumes that give him so much energy. “Health is your wealth,” he says.

Ohana Acai Café, the Marketplace shopping center, 47C Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera; ohanaacai.com.

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