Village Voice’s best of New York issue is out and not surprisingly North Brooklyn has lots of bar and restaurant mentions — and oversights. (No love for Roberta’s?) Some of its choices we find a bit odd, but hey, we’re happy to see Peter Pan, St. Anselm and Taqueria Izucar get some love. Here’s their ‘bests’ from Bushwick, Greenpoint and Williamsburg:
Best Ethiopian Restaurant
While Bunna Café might seem like a Brooklyn cliché (it serves vegan Ethiopian food next to a vacant lot in Bushwick, after all), Ethiopian cuisine has long held vegetarian and vegan dishes in its repertoire thanks to extended fasting periods imposed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Chef Kedija Srage cooks up a colorful array of meatless wots and tibs served alone or as part of combination platters arranged on top of injera. (Bunna’s take on the porous sourdough flatbread is fluffier and less sour than its peers’.) Ethiopian beers and honey wine are available, and cocktails — like the Pushkin, a White Russian made with Ethiopian coffee and toasted sunflower milk — are particularly inspired. The righteous brewed beans are roasted throughout the day and served espresso-style. Srage and café owners Sam Saverance and Liyuw Ayalew have also carved out time four nights a week to perform a traditional coffee ceremony, where an audience observes the roasting process and drinks the results.
Best Cuban Sandwich
Cafetería La Mejor
Find the intersection of Suydam and Wilson in Bushwick, and we guarantee you won’t miss Cafetería La Mejor — its façade is hued turquoise and magenta, so fluorescent we suspect you can see it from space. The place turns out a limited menu of Cuban coffees, a handful of sandwiches, and pastries; grab a counter seat or sashay up to the window and order the sandwich cubano. You’ll get a knock-out classic rendition: roasted pork, ham, swiss, and pickles stacked in generous — but not off-balance — quantities on that white Cuban bread slicked with grainy mustard. The whole thing goes into a press until the cheese is melted and the exterior toasted. We’ll admit we raised an eyebrow when we read the menu description declaring that our sandwich would arrive “eggshell crisp,” but that descriptor proved exactly right, providing an immensely satisfying crackly foil to the hearty filling within.
Best Vegetarian Deli
Hana Natural is actually a grocery store, and its main purpose is to provide Bushwick with organic and natural products. But it also houses a deli, offering its customers a huge selection of sandwiches, including a list of vegetarian options so numerous, it puts other vegetarian restaurants to shame. Many of these are creative re-creations of popular carnivorous sammies, the meat swapped out for fake meat and then laden with fresh vegetables, cheese, and various condiments. In particular, the deli makes a mean veggie BLT, exchanging bacon for veggie bacon, which is made of soy. Or try the tofu Reuben, which uses grilled tofu in lieu of corned beef. [Read more…]