Zocalo is a large, 16-year-old coffee shop in San Leandro, one of the quite appealing little cities in the East Bay just south of Oakland. The shop feels very welcoming with a friendly, smiling staff and a mix of families and laptop junkies like myself on a weekday afternoon. Ye olde local art on the walls and a mix of hanging curtains and dark-amber lighting fixtures give the cavernous open room a touch of personality.
Plenty of places to sit, and there are outlets to be found against the walls and free Wi-Fi. They have pretty much every type of seating you could want including a children’s play area in back.
There’s a small selection of baked goods, but that doesn’t mean an uninteresting one. I had a bacon-scallion scone, which bore a lot of resemblance to a cheddar biscuit both texturally and in flavor.
It was very fluffy, and much like a quiche, the fillings travelled to the bottom of the scone except for the thick layer of cheddar, bacon, and scallions sprinkled on top. That made for a good mix of ingredients without feeling too heavy. There was a lot of cheese throughout the treat.
The coffee menu is simple: drip or hand-presses for brew, cappuccinos and lattes for espresso, iced tea and coffee, and Italian sodas. My iced coffee was robust with a pleasant mesquite taste on the back end.
It gave me enough confidence to purchase a pound to take home. I am always excited to find a new-to-me place for getting freshly roasted beans. Zocalo has several varieties of whole beans including a few blends, which was even more exciting to find for me. I appreciate single-origin beans and the sustainability practices used to source those beans in today’s more responsible shops, but I often find the earthier flavors of a blended roast more to my liking, and there’s nothing stopping a blend from being sustainably sourced either—though I must confess, I have no idea if Zocalo’s are.
The Cobra blend kept my husband and me quite happy for the past month of coffee drinking at home. I’ll be back to spend a working afternoon at Zocalo’s, no question. The only thing that would make them more appealing to me is evening hours.
Zocalo Coffee House
Coffee Drinks: $2–$4
Reviewed 23 April 14.