Sam & Zoe's is located in the delightful community of Berry Hill. The buildings are colorful, the restaurants are delicious, and the people are proud to be here. Sam & Zoe's is located right behind another Nashville favorite, Baja Burrito. They have a drive-thru, a back/front (depending on which way you enter) porch and plenty of tables and chairs inside and out. The menu is written, not on chalkboards, but on old windows hanging above the register. It's more of a cafe than strictly a coffee shop, so they also serve sandwiches and smoothies, which all sounded delicious. Also pumpkin cream cheese muffins. PUMPKIN CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS. Self control prevented Laura from marching right back up to the counter and ordering one after we sat down with our coffee. But she thought about it a lot afterward.
Sam and Zoe's seems like a friendly neighborhood shop. It's fairly small and feels warm and welcoming, with art on the walls and neon signage in the windows. We bet if you come here often, the barista knows your name, occupation, and usual drink order. You would probably get to know the other patrons, as well. It's cozy like that. You can see the entire restaurant from pretty much every table. Elizabeth left her computer completely unattended while ordering and didn't feel a bit of anxiety (granted, she still had her phone--her most prized possession--on her person).
Overall, this place seems well-loved. The building seems like it's been here a while, the tables are a little wobbly, and the air conditioning is provided by window units. But all of those things just add to its charm. It's kind of like a homier version of Bongo Java with less judgey college students and more seasoned regulars who don't feel weird eating alone because, whatever, this is basically their house.
E: Sam & Zoe's boasts their chai is "the best you've ever had." It is definitely their own recipe. It is very sweet, almost vanilla-y. It's extremely creamy and seems to have a bit more cinnamon than your average chai. It was almost as if there was ice cream in it. I can see how it would be delicious to many people, but it's maybe a little too sweet for me.
Chai Taste Rating: 6
They also have several other tea lattes I'd like to try sometime. Included is the mysterious London Fog.
L: I ordered my usual vanilla latte, and it was delicious. Creamy and just the right vanilla-to-espresso ratio. Solid 9.
Latte art grade: 1. Though the foam was the appropriate amount of frothy, this latte didn't really have an art factor:
Presentation and Service:
Sam & Zoe's has branded sleeves, which is always a nice touch. They even had a place for us to recycle them which we promptly forgot about upon leaving. We loved the warnings on the back of the sleeves:
The service was pretty good. The barista didn't seem annoyed when Elizabeth first came in and told him her life story: I am waiting on my friend, Laura, but just looking at the menu. She'll be here in a minute. (L sidenote: this is typically the case seeing as I am consistently late for Coffee Shopping) I promise I'm not just stealing wifi. See, we have this blog... [full disclosure: I didn't tell him all of this, but I'm sure it seemed like it to him.]
They let us use our latte coupon on the chai, too, which was nice. Our drinks were made quickly. The barista wasn't overly friendly, though. He didn't smile or ask about our day. Which is fine, but, you know, not Starbucks. To be fair this is probably the kind of place where one person works the entire day by himself, and we showed up during the last two hours of his shift.
The shop also has bagged coffee for sale, including Drew's Brews--a local coffee roaster, which is always a good sign for a Nashville shop. Many of our favorite shops serve Drew's Brews and are consistently delicious (according to Laura. Elizabeth has no opinion on the matter.).
Fedora count: zero. Are fedoras out? Hipsters, please weigh in.
Level of uncomfortableness walking in: 0. We felt right at home. And neither of us have been there before. Way to go, Sam & Zoe (whoever you are)!
Level of pretentiousness: 2. We give this a 2 because, though it was homey, the barista seemed a little bit like he had somewhere much cooler to be. Nothing about the rest of the shop was particularly pretentious. Again, it's more of a cafe than like the coffee science lab Barista Parlor is.
Price: We used a BOGO coupon (adorable huh?), but both our lattes together were about $3.80. So, the prices are about average.
Parking: There is some parking around the building, but there's also a lot down the street a little for Baja and Sam and Zoe's parking.
The main cons for Sam & Zoe's are the hours (only open until 7 on weekdays) and the fact that the wifi is not available between 10am and 2pm. We assume this is because it is a busy time of day, but we think this might be something worth splurging on. Wifi is crucial for coffee shops. Even if you make people ask for the password and dole it out subjectively based on whether you think they deserve it or not. You gotta have it turned on.
Since we both have day jobs (at least until y'all start paying us to write these...hint, hint) and like to consume caffeine after 7pm, the hours were a bit of a bummer as well.
Overall we thought this shop was a cozy hangout that would probably be a great spot to park it for a couple hours on a rainy day, or stop in for lunch, or work on that Great American Novel you're totally making progress on.
Have you ever been to Sam & Zoe's? If so have you tried their tea lattes or sandwiches?
Alternatively, where should we go next?