Now for a completely different experience. The Samba Rock Acai Cafe on Water Street looks unimpressive from outside, apart from the bright green and yellow mural on the wall.

At first glance the inside appears extremely basic. The floor is unpainted concrete and the walls and ceiling are painted bright red and are covered in large, unpainted plywood in a mutlitude of shapes and sizes. Just inside is a large area to park your bicycle. Along one wall there was an uncushioned wooden bench. The tables were attached to the floor on a concrete block. Do you get the picture? But there is a great sense of happy-go-lucky, take us as you find us ambience about the place and before long we could see the beauty of our surroundings.

We were the very first customers and were warmly welcomed. The first question we were asked was whether we had ever had acai before. Of course neither of us had and I had never heard the word before and had no idea what it was.  It was explained to us that acai is a berry which looks like a large blueberry but with a big pit inside and is found only in South America, especially in the swamps and floodplains along the Amazon. At Samba Rock Acai Cafe they buy frozen acai pulp as the base for their acai bowls.

Up on the wall was a list of the various combinations of acai bowls they serve, along with smoothies and yerba mate (what ever that is). Tom chose the Pele (after the Brazilian soccer player) in a regular size bowl for $8.22 whilst I went for the Mutantes (crazy Brazilian band from the 60’s and 70’s) regular bowl for $7.76. The coffee came in a very large mug.

We sat at a table and while I waited I checked the place out. Up above Tom’s head was the name of the cafe and underneath the phonetic pronounciation of acai (ah-sigh-ee). Several green potted plants were suspended from the ceiling and two vases of flowers and a potted orchid were on the counter.  There were four photos on the walls and the only other adornment were a variety of posters advertising events and services which summed up the whole essence of Santa Cruz.

Our food was served in large bowls and it did look very attractive. On the bottom was the acai pulp, then came a layer of granola and on top of that the fruit we had requested. Pele was blueberries, bananas and strawberries and the Mutantes had pineapple, banana and coconut flakes. It was wonderful.  The acai itself was very cold and had an interesting taste. The combination worked very well together.

By the time we had finished there were quite a few customers and they were very cheerful and friendly. One guy stopped and asked what we thought of acai and we chatted for several minutes. He is a real fan of acai. Apart from the portion he had eaten, he was taking another bowl with him and would eat it as he rode his bike hands free.

When I went to the restroom it was locked and waited outside for a few minutes. Then I thought that maybe one had to ask for a key to use the restroom and this turned out to be the case. The key is fixed to a hula hoop on the wall by the counter. Inside the restroom the walls were bare but as one wall was green, one blue, one yellow and the other neutral it didn’t seem to water. The facilities were OK and the water was hot.

Tom and I will certainly come back here again and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We want to try all the different combinations of acai bowls.

Of course when I got home I checked online to get more information about acai. There is no doubt that it has a lot of good qualities but there are some wild claims out there that amongst other things, this is a superfood which can reverse diabeties and help you lose weight. I’ll wait for the scientific reports until I decide one way or the other. I also found out that yerba mate is a species of holly found in South America. The dry leaves and twigs are steeped in hot water and it tastes a bit like green tea.

Samba Rock Acai Cafe
291 Water St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
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