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Malasadas. Far From Paradise Cafe

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Malasadas And Shave Ice Get the Main Character Treatment at This Westside Cafe

Far From Paradise owners Randy Santos and Tony Ho are bringing island-style snacks to Ocean Avenue

Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

When four construction workers walked into Far From Paradise Cafe on Ocean Avenue, general manager Jan Vicente was happy to see all four order multi-colored shaved ice dripping with syrup and sugar. Within moments the crew was chatting like happy kids on summer break. The shop opened in spring 2023, but as summer blows into San Francisco the cafe is stocked with malasadas, craft coffee, shave ice, and soon, Dole Whip. “This is their happy place,” co-owner Tony Ho says of the shop’s many fans.

Ho is joined by Randy Santos from Ocean Malasadas, the baker behind the hot pop-up, which specializes in the Portuguese doughnuts that are popular in Hawai’i. Before Santos approached Ho for a standing engagement at 296 Ocean Avenue, the space was exclusively home to shave ice joint Pineapples, a business Ho opened in 2016. But the pop-ups went swimmingly, and the excellent combination of shaved ice and malasadas just made sense to the duo. “We formed into one,” Santos says. “Far From Paradise Cafe is bringing two Hawaiian-style desserts further from the island.”

The shop combines what made Pineapples a local treasure with the magic behind Santos’ stuffed, Portuguese delicacies. Fans can still expect Pineapples’s classic shave ice flavors including guava, Blue Hawaii, and coconut with coconut shavings on top, though the team is looking forward to taking their shaved ice to a new level of innovation and quality to match a rising interest in the item thanks to TikTok. Plus, a new Dole Whip machine is en route to the store in the coming months. “People still come here looking for it,” Ho says. “So we made a big purchase. That’ll be on tap.” On the malasada side, there are 12 rotating flavors brought in from South San Francisco each morning including leche flan-filled and ube-infused riffs.

Interior of Far From Paradise Cafe. Paolo Bicchieri
Interior of Far From Paradise Cafe. Paolo Bicchieri

Andytown Coffee is the brew on hand right now, as the fellow westside business was an early supporter of Ocean Malasadas, but Far From Paradise will feature lots of roasters throughout the Bay. Furthering the local ties, Evan Lessler of streetwear company Adapt is tapped in, selling his book Gold Blooded and other retail items at the shop. Leah Ledda is another local entrepreneur in the loop thanks to her company Lei’s Plant Shop, selling loads of plants including a still-growing pineapple. The shop has deep Bay Area roots, with both Vicente and Ho growing up and going to school in the Excelsior. “I’ve seen this neighborhood develop through the years,” Ho says. “We get to help by giving people a part of the island lifestyle.”

All three of the leadership team have high hopes for the operation. Ho wants to make sure his customers from the Pineapples days know that Far From Paradise is still the go-to spot for after-school treats and pre-work caffeine. After everything is flowing at this flagship shop, including expanded hours throughout the week, new outposts in sunnier parts of the Bay will be quick to follow — San Jose, the East Bay, or maybe even another outpost in the city. “I’m happy about it,” Santos says. “People always say ‘I just came back from Hawai’i,’ or ‘I had this as a kid in Hawai’i.’ It’s for everyone, but we are rooted in culture.”

Far From Paradise Cafe is open at 296 Ocean Avenue Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Interior of Far From Paradise Cafe. Paolo Bicchieri
Interior of Far From Paradise Cafe. Paolo Bicchieri
Interior of Far From Paradise Cafe. Paolo Bicchieri
Interior of Far From Paradise Cafe. Paolo Bicchieri

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