Zinc Café: A Vegetarian Meal with a Side of James Franco

Sydney Miller | Daily Trojan

If you asked me what the best part of my weekend was, I would definitely say it was my experience at Zinc Café & Market, and not just because I was seated three feet away from actor James Franco. Located on Mateo Street in the up and coming Arts District, Zinc is the perfect spot for a delicious and healthy lunch. The cafe has a few different sections: a dine-in seating area with indoor and outdoor seating, a salad bar and a small marketplace. The salad bar offers delicious and healthy options, from the avocado toast with a balsamic reduction to the Mexican chopped couscous salad. Open on weekdays only, the salad bar is your best bet for quick service and yummy, fresh foods. You can stack up as many different salads as you want all for $12.50 per pound.

As I wanted a bit of a heartier lunch, I opted for the regular lunch menu. The menu offers a range of unique wood fired pizzas, veggie burgers, pasta, salads, sandwiches and more! It is a relatively small menu but somehow I struggled for a while to decide what to order as everything sounded delicious. I decided upon the vegetarian sausage and fennel pizza and opted to swap the usual fontina cheese topping for vegan cheese. My friend, Anna, ordered one of the classic Zinc veggie burgers which came with roasted peppers and melted brie cheese.

After the first bite, I knew I had to come back to Zinc as soon as possible. The pizza crust was thin and crispy yet not burnt, and the combination of the cheese, sausage, and savory, crunchy fennel was blissful. Anna’s veggie burger was roughly the size of her face, oozing with melted brie. Needless to say, we both cleaned our plates completely.

In addition to their delicious lunch menu and salad bar, there is also a dinner, dessert and cocktail menu featuring cocktails from Zinc’s own Bar Mateo, located just next door. Zinc also boasts a small mini-mart inside, where they sell gourmet Italian sodas, kombucha, and little munchies and candies. Zinc is the perfect spot to take your picky mom out to lunch, to go with your roommates or to go by yourself. While it may seem out of the limelight, watch out for celebrities when you go. I was seated next to James Franco and was definitely not cool about it.