When owners Vanessa and Ron Wilkerson were opening Samba Rock Acai Café, they encountered many roadblocks along the way. For instance, the city assessed there would be a $30,000 traffic-impact fee for their restaurant. So the duo improvised. They built an indoor bike parking area, reducing the fee while still providing customers a place to park their wheels. This is just one example in which Ron has defied what some might see as a career-ending set-back. In 1988, the former professional BMX Freestyle rider fell into a coma after failing to land a no-hander, no-footer trick on his bike. Though some might have given up after a life-threatening experience like that—he suffered short-term memory loss and even forgot some of the BMX tricks that he had pioneered—Ron got back on his bike. And if he hadn’t, he would never have traveled to Sao Paolo, Brazil, met Vanessa, married her, or opened Samba Rock Acai Café.
The menu at Samba Rock Acai Café pays homage to the country where the Wilkersons met and where Vanessa grew up. Blended Brazilian berries and mix-ins, such as bananas and peanut butter, make up the base for their acai bowls. They crown this base with toppings such as fresh fruit, avocado, coconut cream, and granola. Their smoothies also feature acai, as well as organic ingredients, which have never been tainted by spray tanners to look more appealing to customers. To round out their South American-inspired menu, they serve yerba mate—steeped leaves of the mate plant—with acai to sweeten each sip.
Eat an endless parade of succulent meats, salads, sides, and hot dishes at Espetus Churrascaria. With today's Groupon, $20 gets you $40 toward a prix fixe rodizio-style dinner (can't be used toward drinks or dessert) that ensures hunger's defeat at the hands of knife-wielding, meat-serving gauchos. The rodizio dinner costs $49.95, so you'll still need another $9.95 in addition to your $40 Groupon, but that's still 40% off some of the best meats in town.
Weekly samba performances complement authentic Brazilian fare at Canto Do Brasil Restaurant, one of San Francisco's longest-standing Brazilian restaurants and subject of two Check, Please! Bay Area features. To commence meals, chefs can sauté fresh calamari with red wine or grill up a sausage that intimidates foot-long hot dogs with its 16-inch length and muscular entourage of bread. For the main dish, forks can tap dance over the galinha na cerveja, a half chicken marinated in dark beer and Brazilian-style spices; or hide away inside the seafood tropical’s pineapple shell, in which a sauce made with orange, apple, and coconut festoons a medley of seafood. Finally, a selection of Portuguese beers or the signature caipirinha’s mix of sugar, lime, and rum's bad-boy cousin cachaça can wash down meals with authentic South American flavors.
Patrons can pluck their daily serving of fruit from piled-high headdresses on Friday and Saturday nights, when Canto Do Brasil hosts live Carnaval samba performances in a relaxed, festive, and romantic atmostphere. Dancers decked out in feathered plumes and sparkly costumes shimmy and shake their way between rustic wooden chairs and cerulean walls for a beach aesthetic, entertaining customers and competing to see whose headdress can attract the most parrots.
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, House of Genji has been serving fresh Japanese fare with flair from its menu of titillating tappan-style dishes (which include soup, salad, vegetables, and rice) and artfully rolled sushi since 1971. Grab a cocktail at the bar and marvel at the chef’s knife skills, flipping finesse, and bold disregard of your mother’s threats to ground him as he playfully executes table tricks and nimbly tosses each succulent morsel onto your plate with bite-sized precision. The tableside entertainment and modern décor make House of Genji an ideal venue for social gatherings, though customers should be aware that a 15% gratuity will be added for parties of seven or more.
While the ancients interpreted one flame on the horizon as heralding imminent war and two flames as "party at Dave's house," three flames have always signaled suppertime. Today's Groupon gets you $40 worth of generous American cuisine at Three Flames Restaurant for $20. This Groupon can be used for dinner only, and you can combine two for $80 worth of food if you bring along the rest of your barbershop quartet. Take the drive down Meridian Avenue for a classic night out with live entertainment and sumptuous fare from both land and sea.
At the heart of Lark Creek Blue's renovated Santana Row space sits a circular raw bar. From here, daily-stocked, ocean-fresh seafood tops plates and gives guests a taste of the deep blue's bounty. Oysters are the specialty, and diners can indulge on them individually, by the half-dozen, or through oyster-tasting experiences—one of which includes every oyster on the raw-bar menu for that day. But, of course, the scope of restaurant extends well beyond mollusks.
Behind the raw bar is an open kitchen helmed by Chef Chad Ferry. He and his team use sustainable seafood to whip up seasonal dishes such as Hawaiian ahi tuna tartare and mahi mahi ceviche. And whether within view of the action or sitting outside on the patio, guests can wash these down with barrel-aged specialties and a robust selection of wines that let them rehydrate without blasting each other with super soakers.