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.
When to Go Stop by between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. throughout the week for the hot lunch buffet.
Who’s in the Kitchen?
Inside Tip A splendid crust is guaranteed for all, regardless of dietary preference or geographic hometown. If you’re from the Midwest, go with the thin and crispy crust. If you hail from the Big Apple, then order up a big New York-style version. There’s also a thick and buttery cornmeal option, and even a gluten-free crust. For the non-conformist, pies can also be folded into calzones.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Work up an appetite by hiking at the scenic Mount Davidson Park (Dalewood Way & Myra Way), which is famous for its 103-foot cross and memorial to the Armenian genocide.
After: Keep the fun going by belting out your best “Thunder Road” in a private singing room at K-Net Karaoke (870 Taraval Street).
Today's Groupon gets you $75 worth of Italian/Brazilian cuisine at Mangarosa in North Beach for $35. Mangarosa offers "a dash of Brazil to the Italian menus that predominate in the popular neighborhood," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Zagat rates Mangarosa's tropical flavors and fine-dining food as "very good," but rates its servers' ability to tune patrons' guitars as "wicked bad."
At Vino Prima, the wine pours freely. Surrounded by 360-degree views of the Santa Cruz wharf and sparkling lights of the boardwalk, patrons soak in the views as they sip their choice of wine by the flight or glass, with a rotating selection of 30 wines pouring daily. Enclosed in their protective casings, more than 150 boutique wines are also available by the bottle, which can later be filled with a miniature version of your favorite 14th-century shipwreck. On some weekends, belly dancing and live-music sessions create a lively atmosphere to complement the always-flowing libations.