Boasting more than 2,000 brands of wine, Vineyard Gate provides an Eden for oenophiles as well as an ideal place for tannin tenderfoots to cover acres of unexplored fertility. Venerable vino aficionados help pick out wine that pairs perfectly with each client's palate and lifetime supply of space meals. Vineyard's selection spans both the far ends of the Earth and the budget: for less than $30, sample the crisp, fruity 2007 Sacha Lichine VDP blanc ($9) or the 2006 Waterbrook cabernet sauvignon, with hints of ripe cherry and currant ($21). This Groupon can also go toward a splurge on more swanky spirits such as the 2004 Château de la Tour Clos Vougeot Grand Cru Burgundy, an elegant elixir with a mouth-coating finish ($106). Vineyard also offers a variety of sparkling wines, roses, champagnes, and half-bottles for the more temperate tippler.
There's nothing quite like a bicycle ride over rolling hillsides for shaking up the doldrums of daily idling. The shuttle bus will pick up bikeseekers between 8 and 9 a.m. and head across the Golden Gate Bridge toward wine country. Upon arrival, the guided bike ride begins, and you'll hop from winery to winery like a king on a checkerboard. All the tour guides are trained sommeliers with craniums filled with wine knowledge—and possibly wine. Sample varietals aperitifs along the course of the journey and stop for a delightful picnic lunch among the vineyards. The shuttle bus will follow along to carry anything purchased at the wineries or to assist thoroughly tuckered trekkers. Daytrippers are returned to the city by 7 p.m., in time to share the sunset with a lucky loved one—a girlfriend, a husband, a bottle of wine wearing a wig, etc. Purchase up to four of today's deal and invite friends, family, or a group of beloved strangers to join the journey. If you want to bring a friend along who doesn't possess a Groupon, that person will get 20% off the tour.
Housed within the heart of Golden Gate Park, Park Chalet Garden Restaurant manages to simultaneously embrace its natural surroundings and its contemporary, urban setting. Glass walls and ceilings completely surround the diners, affording them pastoral views of Queen Wilhelmina's windmill and the dutch-tulip garden without sacrificing the comfort of an indoor environment. During warm, sunny days, natural light floods the space and the retractable glass doors slide open to admit warm breezes. The dining room's pendant lamps and immense stone fireplace become invaluable at night, keeping the restaurant brightly lit and the temperatures toasty throughout the evening.
To complement this elegantly cozy ambiance, Executive Chef Matthew Urban and his team devised a menu of familiar comfort foods with subtly refined touches. Smoked paprika oil adds an unfamiliar yet welcome burst of savory flavor to the fried chicken, and cornmeal-crusted trout arrives at tables with an aromatic saffron aioli. Occasionally, the chefs look for inspiration in other cuisines and fuse those flavors with Californian ingredients. Crushed avocados add to the ahi tuna tartare's richness, but the dish's ginger-sesame vinaigrette balances those flavors with a hint of zesty spice.
However, the chefs aren't the only culinary talent at Park Chalet Garden Restaurant. The staff also brews a variety of beers in-house, crafting everything from smoky, German-style märzens to refreshingly hoppy IPAs. As diners enjoy one of these brews with their meal, they can take in the views and applaud the local bands and extraterrestrial magicians that perform every Tuesday evening.
While most 21-year-olds are content to just sit in a bar and drink beer, Mike Johannsen was a bit more active about his newly legal status. As soon as he came of age, he started brewing in his dorm room at CalPoly San Luis Obispo. Over the years, he has explored almost every angle of the business, from equipment maintenance to cellaring, packaging, and quality assurance. In 2013, he founded Schubros Brewery alongside Ian Schuster, a London Business School grad and craft beer aficionado.
In the short time that Schubros has been operational, they have already done a lot to distinguish themselves from other breweries. For starters, all their brews are organic: varietals include Diablo Sunrise, a chocolate-orange imperial stout, and 680 IPA, a mahogany ale with notes of caramel and toffee. Schubros also gives 1% of their profits to various local organizations. Customers can go online to vote on where the money should go each quarter; options include environmental groups, school districts, and fire departments.
Broken Drum Brewery & Wood Grill's brew masters whip up froth-topped beers, served in-house or to-go in growlers and kegs, to provide a counterbalance to its hefty selection of Southwestern-inspired pub grub. Home brewers channel German brewing tradition to craft obsidian batches of malty bock beers as well as the Terrifico, which fills pint glasses with crisp mexican lager. The grill's platters include chicken mole, which arrives snuggled beneath a blanket of robust mole sauce and melted jack and cheddar cheeses, and grilled mahi-mahi tostadas topped with mango salsa, black beans, and coleslaw. Broken Drum's patio provides a location for sipping libations, and ample opportunities for tossing table scraps to fire hydrants.
Satisfying meals and handcrafted beer intersect with premium sports viewing at Lamppost Pizza and Backstreet Brewery, founded in 1976 by Angelo Barro and his sons, Dan and Tom. Today, the franchise welcomes patrons to 37 locations in three states, and the philosophy remains the same at all of them. Seven big-screen TVs broadcast football, basketball, and baseball games from around the leagues to entertain patrons sipping small-batch draft beers brewed onsite. Fans munch on traditional sports-viewing snacks, such as jalapeño poppers, potato skins, and deep-fried depth charts. Chefs also prepare heartier entrees including garlic-chicken pasta, Pesto Supreme pizzas covered with artichoke hearts, and The Linebacker, a pizza loaded with pepperoni, salami, ground beef, sausage, and two types of bacon.