East Providence’s Cafe Zara Transports Guests With Portuguese Breakfast

Inspired by travels, the lush eatery brings vacation vibes and a homey touch


There’s a cafe in East Providence adorned with live palm trees and birds of paradise plants that exudes vacation vibes – and might just make you forget about Washington Bridge woes for a bit. “Even as the owner, every morning I walk in, I feel like I’ve walked into a cafe in Europe or Miami Beach,” says Levi Medina, who opened Cafe Zara with a vision of creating a transportive experience for guests, whether stopping by for a quick coffee on their daily commute or carving out time to start the day slow with breakfast food unique to EP.

Inspired by his own travels and Portuguese heritage, Medina designed the bright, sunny cafe as “a sort of a mashup of ideas and flavors,” he says, but “the menu is simple and incorporates my Azorean and Portuguese heritage with ingredients from the Azores Islands, as well as some
well-known classic offerings.”

An embodiment of this vision is the Lisbon Morning, which is Cafe Zara’s version of a traditional Portuguese breakfast. “It is a large plate with a warm baguette, Saint Jorge cheese from the Azores, and fresh fruits – including exotic ones like dragon fruit, passion fruit, and starfruit when we can get our hands on them – with butter and jam. It’s the perfect option to start the day,” says Medina. Another classic offering is the Tosta, which is simple yet satisfying: Saint Jorge cheese and ham on buttered sourdough. “If you ever traveled to Portugal, it’s a staple breakfast sandwich at every cafe,” he says.

Medina strives to have a menu that caters to all tastes, so guests will also find familiar American breakfast and lunch options: Bacon Egg and Cheese, Avocado Toast, Smoked Salmon (on toast or a bagel), Roast & Smoke Turkey Sandwich (with smoked pimenton aioli), and a Chorizo Baguette, just to name a handful, with sweet options, too.

On the drink menu, spring brings the return of the popular Lavender Lemonade – “people ask for it all year,” says Medina – with the main ingredient from Munroe Dairy. Coffee specials rotate throughout the season, too, but there’s always iced coffee, Americano, lattes (including an RI Iced Latte with coffee milk), and more. With warm temps creeping back into the forecast, guests can try the refreshing Azorean Iced Tea, offering a taste of Sao Miguel Island.

Though the flavors harken back to travels, Cafe Zara is a homey place. “If you’ve been to the cafe several times, we most likely know your name and try to make everyone feel special and appreciated,” says Medina. “Without customers leaving happy, we are nothing.” 130 Taunton Avenue, East Providence, Cafe-Zara.com



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