We’ve been singing the praises of Bunna Cafe (1084 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn) since it opened — not only was the place a killer vegan entrant into the New York restaurant industry, it turns out one hell of an Ethiopian feast in a city that’s short on representatives from that country. So despite the occasionally slow service and long-time lack of a liquor license (that’s been remedied now — you can get beer, wine, and all manner of drinks), we found ourselves returning frequently. And this weekend, we were delighted to be given another reason to drop in: the cafe just debuted brunch.
Stopping by in the morning gives you a good excuse to drink the thick, black Ethiopian coffee the place purveys, and you’ll need at least a cup to steel yourself for the inevitable wait for your food. (Brunch seemed to move even slower than dinner, so something to note if you’re the hangry type.)
Choose from a list of four savory and two sweet entrees (all priced below $10), each of which comes sided with kita, a flat, chewy naan-like bread that’s been pan-fried until it blisters. Our leaps and bounds favorite item on the menu was the ful, a deeply savory fava bean stew loaded with tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. Close seconds included the chechebsa — teff bread so soaked in earthy, spicy berbere it begins to resemble meat in both appearance and texture — and butecha, a vegan scramble made with chickpea, onions, pepper, garlic, and ginger.
The power move here, though, is to order one (or both, if you’re dining in a group) of the combinations ($12 to $14), which nets you most of the dishes on the regular menu. The special ful gets you the fava beans, the scramble, and cashew ergo, a cashew milk yogurt; the habesha breakfast comes loaded with that berebere-soaked bread, the scramble, and garlicky swiss chard.
You could supplement your order with some home fries; we opted for an espris selata, a sweet, fresh blend of chunks of papaya, mango, and avocado, the solid version of a layered juice drink the restaurant sells.
This is food that expands in your stomach and will kill a hangover, by the way, and it makes a good alternative to the monotonous parade of eggs benedict and French toast you’ll find in most establishments.
It’s worth a trip. Even if it’s cash only. And even if you have to wait longer than usual for your food.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 18, 2014