For a literal taste of San Francisco's history, it's hard to do better than a loaf of sourdough bread. Each golden-brown round owes its distinct tangy flavor to a wild yeast mother starter, and some date as far back as 1849. But if the iconic loaf fails to work your taste buds into a frenzy, don't fret; San Francisco is home to a bevy of awe-inspiring bakeries doling out giant donuts, heavenly custard tarts, and a few sweet surprises.Read More
Sally's After Dark
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Sally's After Dark
Sally's After Dark
Sally's After Dark
The daughter of a dentist, Kara Haspel Lind took a drastically different path in 2006 when she opened her first cupcake shop in the Marina. Now with multiple stores and a mobile cupcake van, Kara’s Cupcakes is a sweet San Francisco institution. That doesn’t mean that Kara is set in her ways, however. Recently, she expanded her offerings to include something a little bigger: 6- and 9-inch cakes. The cakes are available in all of the signature cupcake flavors, as well as two cake-only variants. We spoke with Kara about exploring new edible territory, plus her favorite places to eat before dessert. GROUPON: So what made you decide to venture into the cake space? And can you tell us a little more about the cakes themselves? KARA HASPEL LIND: Cupcakes are a mini celebration (even if you’re just celebrating that you finished lunch!), and we wanted to offer guests options for the larger celebratory moments in their life. We’re keeping it special by having two cake-only flavors: Paradise and Chocolate Eclipse. The Paradise cake is made with organic bananas and passionfruit-curd filling. It’s covered in cream-cheese frosting, then sprinkled with fresh toasted coconut. The Chocolate Eclipse cake is a chocolate cake filled with Italian meringue marshmallow, covered in rich chocolate ganache frosting. All of the new cakes are ready-made daily and by custom order, which requires 24 hours notice. G: Sounds delicious! You have a well-established brand when it comes to cupcakes in San Francisco. Besides the new cakes, what else differentiates Kara’s from other bakeries? KHL: Our sweet treats are baked daily (sometimes hourly!) in small batches, so guests are enjoying their cupcakes a few hours, if not a few minutes, out of the oven. Community is also an important focal point for our cupcakes. We like to use local ingredients that are sustainable and organic. G: What sorts of local ingredients? KHL: Take our seasonal strawberry cupcake, for example. We use Yerena Farms organic strawberries in that. Poli Yerena, a Bay Area small farmer, created his own business with his family and his strawberries are to die for. They make a delicious strawberry cream. Our salt comes right from the bay—from the red salt ponds you see when flying to and from SFO. [We also use] Giusto’s flour, Petaluma farm-fresh pullet eggs … These are all conscious decisions to make a difference in our community, which is extremely important to us. G: Speaking of the community, can you tell us some of your favorite places to go when you aren’t eating dessert? KHL: For coffee, the new Peet’s on Chestnut Street. For breakfast, Gott’s egg sandwich. And for lunch or dinner, Padrecito in Cole Valley … delish and fresh! This interview has been condensed and edited. Photos courtesy of Kara’s Cupcakes.Read More
San Francisco’s lively culinary scene includes a delectable sweet side as well. The city is enjoying a wave of exciting and original pastry shops opened by inventive, talented bakers and pastry chefs. There’s no need to settle for a regular old cookie or a second-rate muffin when you have your choice of bakeries offering cakes, tarts, and other pastries you haven’t even imagined, perfectly turned out and dangerously delicious. Below, some of the best and most creative bakeries in the city. b. patisserie Belinda Leong, veteran pastry chef, left the fine dining scene to open her own bakery, to the great fortune of San Franciscans and pastry lovers everywhere. The star of her patisserie is the kouign amann, an amped up buttery-sugary relative of croissant that Leong has helped rescue from obscurity. Other favorite specialties include her passionfruit bostock, and her macarons. The curving marble counter in the very French, light-filled shop lets you view all the temptations on display before you make your selections. Don’t miss the macaron tree wall art near the back of the shop. 2821 California St San Francisco, CA 94115 Tartine The grand doyenne of bakeries in San Francisco, Tartine is the name that springs to most natives’ lips when asked, “Where’s a good place to get something sweet?” Tartine is as easily distinguished by the dreamy scent of warm pastries wafting out the door as by the long line of customers snaking out the same door. Their indecently flaky croissants and morning buns (like a croissant crossed with a cinnamon roll) make for a blissful breakfast, while their banana cream tart and bread pudding make spectacular endings to any meal. The few tables in the tiny bakery get filled quickly, but it’s a quick one block to Dolores Park where one can enjoy fresh air and some of the city’s most luscious pastries. 600 Guerrero St San Francisco, CA 94110 Knead Patisserie Shauna des Voignes is another pastry chef who made the leap from the restaurant world to opening her own bakery. Knead Patisserie is a tucked-away counter in the back of Local: Mission Eatery, a casual restaurant run by her chef husband Jake (yes, Shauna does desserts for the restaurant as well). Although Knead Patisserie’s counter may be tricky to spot, its offerings more than make up for it. The butter pecan croissants and malted chocolate éclairs are, but the cult favorite is the pomme d’amore, which is essentially crème brulee in a puff pastry cup. The combination of rich, eggy custard and crisp sugary pastry is divinely addictive. 3111 24th Street San Francisco, CA 94110 Arizmendi Bakery It doesn’t matter what the pizza of the day is at Arizmendi: it’s always delicious and it always draws a line of hungry customers. With fresh, seasonal toppings, thin crust made of crisp sourdough drizzled with garlic oil and mozzarella, Arizmendi’s pizza is ideal for a picnic in nearby Golden Gate Park. Besides the pizza, Arizmendi is also known for its great selection of breads, from simple baguettes to foccacia to scones. Arizmendi is a worker-owned cooperative bakery and they also have branches in the Mission District and across the bay in Oakland. 1268 Valencia St San Francisco, CA 94110 Honorable Mention: Neighbor Bakehouse Some of San Francisco’s best croissants don’t have their own home, but they’re absolutely worth seeking out. Greg Mindel, founder of Neighbor Bakehouse, crafts amazing croissants that are a marvel of lightness and flakiness(the pistachio-blackberry is a must). Besides the croissants, he offers savory tarts, filled brioches, and a rotating roster of other delectable goodies. His creations are carried at many of the city’s coffeehouses, including Sightglass, Four Barrel, Elite Audio, and Café Sophie, for convenient fulfillment of coffee and pastry cravings at the same time. Check the neighbor bakehouse website for the most current listing of where Greg’s pastries are to be found and for his occasional pop-ups.Read More
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