On July 2, a different kind of hangout opened in Samara, well attended by the local crowd curious to see what the Zen Den is all about. Some played pool in the corner, and all enjoyed socializing, accompanied by sangria and tapas-style food with low-key background music.
The space on the main street previously occupied by El Vino and the Gondola was given a complete facelift by French business partners Evelyn Blanco Rodriguez and Carmen Flores, with homemade furniture, thick, comfortable cushions and a massive painting of Buddha on the back wall. The idea was to create a calm environment where friends can relax and have a drink without so much noise. “I always wanted something very zen,” explained Blanco. “I’m not Buddhist but I very much like the philosophy of Buddhism.”
Zen Den offers a variety of wine, cocktails and shots, along with three sizes of tapas plates. A small plate is 3500 colones ($7), a medium is 6000 ($12) and a large is 11,000 ($22). From 11 p.m. until 2 a.m., when the kitchen is closed, they serve sandwiches or hamburgers for 2000 colones ($4) or for 2500 colones ($5) try croquet monsieur, a French-style sandwich of ham and cheese baked on toasted bread.
They plan to have music events from time to time and also host birthday parties. Backgammon and dice are also available for people to play. During low season, Zen Den opens from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., but they plan to open at 5 p.m. during high season. For more information, visit barzenden on Facebook.