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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Zona Rosa Caffe (#8 in a Quest)

Zona Rosa is a charmer of a coffee shop on El Molino just south of Colorado Blvd. The sidewalk tables with an eclectic selection of patrons attract you to stop. From there you might think it looks European, but step inside and you'll know: Zona Rosa has a Mexican flair.

I've enjoyed Zona Rosa before and even posted about it. The other day for the first time I took my laptop there to work. On the ground floor there's a small bar and just the one table in this photo. But head up a little flight of stairs and you'll find couches, more tables and always some interesting artwork on the walls (right now some pieces are more interesting than others). The upstairs room is intimate but bright, with two large windows overlooking El Molino Blvd.

I'd love to find a coffee shop with a library hush, but such a shop would likely be patronless besides me. No, no, a shop with an unhurried atmosphere is the best one can expect, and that's Zona Rosa. It even says so on their website. The Latin music is pleasant background. The patrons all seem to get it: we're not loud here, we're respectful. We're here to chill.

I set up my laptop at one of the window tables, which turned out to be too high for typing comfortably for very long. Upstairs at Zona Rosa the other choices are coffee tables, which have the opposite problem. The outside tables are the right height but it was too cold to sit outside that day.

I'm starting to sound like Goldilocks.

Don't expect to order a meal; it's strictly coffees, teas and baked thingies, with a decent variety. My cookie and juice were fine fuel, and I can recommend the coffee from past experience.

There are great coffee places for flirting, meeting a friend or even having a cup of coffee. Zona Rosa is all three. My quest is to discover the perfect coffee shop in which to write. If you click on my previous Zona Rosa post you'll see others obviously find it a good place to work. I'll stop back and try a sidewalk table there on a warmer day.

Update: In today's comments Cafe Observer reminds us there's no wifi at Zona Rosa. Altadenahiker reminds us that can be a good thing.

25 comments:

Cafe Pasadena said...

I think of ZRC more for quiet conversing or meeting someone, not for working.
And, certainly wI-fI doesn't work there. Menu is just coffee, tea, and a few pastries.

P, did u ever visit Metro Coffee & Tea across Off Max before they were evicted last May?

What bout Seattles Coffee & Books on Raymond?

USelaine said...

I love the light glowing on the shelves. The Latin American theme is certainly appropriate, lest we forget. You have me thinking I should have gotten a laptop...

altadenahiker said...

I like Zona -- upstairs. The place has a French flavor. I put an extra cushion on the couch to reach the right height. And sometimes it's actually better not to have access to wifi (for me, anyway).

HearkenCreative said...

Looks beautiful. Good coffee is a plus (obviously -- it's a coffeeshop). You are right, Petrea, most coffeeshops do not have the atmosphere for quiet work; I had a similar opinion of most restaurants when I was in the early years of marriage (i.e., before kids): my wife and I would want a wonderful quiet restaurant where we could go and talk, but there was no such thing. I wonder if the old adage about piping music into a restaurant to keep people moving so that they can fill the tables with new paying customers applies to coffeeshops too?

Vanda said...

After the Dooh Dah I was driving up on Lake, and saw a cofe shop and immediately thought of you, Petrea. The place's name was, and I'm not making it up, "The Foxe's Back Side." Have you ever been there?

Petrea said...

Cafe, I never did make it to Metro. I love Seattle's Best, however, and will definitely post about it. You'd never know it's a chain.

I'm not following, Elaine. Lest we forget what?

Yeah, AH, wifi can get in the way of work, which is why I leave the house. You people and your infernal blogs!

Hearken, it's one reason my husband and I eat out so rarely. But at a recent get-together with friends he asked the management to turn down the music - which they did. I don't get it. Why make the experience unpleasant? It's a relief to enter an establishment and hear NO music.

Vanda, I know of a breakfast joint on North Lake in Altadena called Foxes, on the east side of the road. A cute little place. The only time I went in there was about 5 years ago and it smelled so much of grease I couldn't eat. Can any Altadenans update me?

Margaret said...

I've never been to Zona Rosa, but I always see it when I'm on my way to Vromans. I'll be sure to check it out.

marley said...

"I'm starting to sound like Goldilocks" Lol! The quest continues...

postie said...

Coffee places are great. Years ago in Victoria BC Canada about the 1980s my wife and I often just wanted coffee or tea and restaurants would turn us away, or shove us in a corner that was not comfortable. Its so nice to have places now just for that purpose a quiet cup.

Christie said...

Sounds like a nice place. Now I want some coffee.....

Katie said...

Cool photo - I like the funky old phones on the upper shelves. I think I'd like hanging out at Zona, especially since I refuse to do any work outside of work and it sounds quiet.

pasadenapio said...

No wifi? It doesn't break my heart in the least. The simpler the better. Time to slow down.

Petrea said...

Yeah, the Zona's a cool place. A good spot for a blogger meet-up.

Ms M said...

Sounds like a good place to hang, to relax. I love the purple walls and the wooden shelves.

Cafe Observer said...

I think Zona is zoned for a smaller blogger meat up. I gotta talk 2 one of de owners 1 day.

However, we did discover a great Tea salon 2day which we just loved everything about.

unemployed one said...

zona rosa is great. do they still have live music on certain nights?

Mister Earl said...

Hi P: The day of the Doo Dah I was in Seattle's Coffee and Books. I was wondering if they sold Seattle's Best Coffee, because if not, I thought they were looking for a lawsuit. Turns out they do sell Seattle's Best, but they're not exactly part of the chain. They are owned by a church, and they have a license to sell Seattle's Best.

Petrea said...

I'd never want to do an official meet-up there, C.O. Just for fun.

UnOne, their website says they have music. I don't think it's on a regular basis. http://www.zonarosacaffe.com/

Mister Earl, good info. I thought they were part of the chain. They do have their own way of doing things, though. It's really a nice place.

altadenahiker said...

This looks like a room is a doll house. What's your ranking so far, P? Say, the top three.

Susan C said...

I love Fox's in Altadena. I always feel like I'm back in Small Town, West Virginia when I eat there - you recognize everyone, the waitresses know you and I don't need a menu because I always order the same thing.

The "back side" is a little coffee bar in the back. I've never tried that.

Petrea said...

For places to work quietly:

Bean Town, Coffee Gallery and Central Grounds, in no particular order. Well, Bean Town's probably first so far. My list is really long. I'm going to try Zona Rosa again outside. With Coffee Gallery, it depends what time of day (mornings are busy). Central Grounds is only outdoors, so it's no good for me on a cold day. Other places have their charms but not necessarily quiet ones.

I'm not finished yet, though.

Petrea said...

Hiker: you? What are your top three?

altadenahiker said...

I'd stay away from the backroom of Fox's, Susan. It appears to be a failed experiment. (But I do know one of the owners catches some of the fish they offer.)

I'm either at Beantown or Coffee Gallery, with a slight edge to the former because it's nice to get out of town. (Altho the latter has a hunky & sweet barista.)You're right, noise is a big problem in most of the others. (Ruins the one across from South Pas lah-brury.)

Cafe Pasadena said...

BeanTown clearly is one of the top 3. But, for people like The AHiker, it would require a special out of town hike.

If you wanna work then you probably want a wI-Fi joint.

Seattle's Coffee Books is in contention. Quieter than average. Music is not always played.

Petrea said...

Hunky/sweet barista at Coffee Gallery = Fly, pictured here. As the Hiker indicates, the photo doesn't do him justice.