Ethiopian Food At Bunna Cafe
Ethiopian Food At Bunna Cafe

First Impressions of Bunna Cafe – Ethiopian Food in New York 

I love trying out new food and cuisines. You all should know about that already. Whenever I’m travelling, I always opt to try local food whether it’s trying Puttu in Kochi or Pyaaz Kachori in Jaipur, I’m always up for trying local cuisine wherever I go. So when I was on my first international trip to the US in December 2023, I knew I wanted to try cuisines I don’t find easily in India. And one of the that stood out for me was Ethiopian Food. 

I barely had any idea about Ethiopian Food as I was researching vegetarian places to eat in New York. That’s when I stumbled upon Bunna Cafe in Brooklyn, an Ethiopian restaurant serving vegetarian food.

So even before I left India, I knew I would be visiting the Cafe and trying Ethiopian cuisine for the first time in my life! In this post, I’ll share my experience of trying Ethiopian Food for the first time at Bunna Cafe. 

Ethiopian Food – What’s it all about?

As I said, I googled to know more about Ethiopian food to understand it a little better and also asked a few questions to the lady at the cafe. Ethiopian cuisine is about food and community. They follow a practice where people dine in groups and hence their platters are also prepared in that manner. The food is a healthy mix of meat and plant-based dishes which was surprising. I mean most other cuisines don’t have much to offer for vegetarians and hence that made me more curious to try Ethiopian food. 

The characteristic dish of this cuisine is Injera, which is a sourdough flatbread. You can think of it as what Roti is to Indian food and injera is to Ethiopian. So in most Ethiopian food, you’ll find it. Apart from that, the spices they use also closely resemble Indian masalas. For instance, Berbere is the garam masala equivalent and Niter Kibbeh is the ghee equivalent of Ethiopian food. 

Lastly, Coffee or Bunna as it is locally called is a must-have beverage. There’s also a practice of preparing coffee with all the guests around and letting the aroma fill the room before they begin eating the food. 

That I feel is a decent primer on Ethiopian Food, with that, let’s get into the crux of the post. 

Bunna Cafe – Brooklyn

My plan was quite clear I had to visit Bunna Cafe in Brooklyn, but the question was when. I looked it up on the map and it was far. But it was relatively closer to Brooklyn Bridge and Dumbo. So the day I was exploring Brooklyn, I decided to spend the afternoon visiting the cafe and exploring Bushwick Collective.

The easiest way to get there using the New York Subway is to take a metro from anywhere on the lower Manhattan to midtown line Union station, 3rd Avenue etc. and then get down at Morgan Avenue or Jefferson Street and walk to Bunna Cafe. Since I had the unlimited weekly pass for the metro, I used that as much as I could. 

The moment you get out of the metro station, you experience a drastic change in the vibes of the place. The neighbourhood is home to different ethnic communities from Latin, Italian, Dominican and Puerto Ricans to name a few. The streets are filled with cafes and food trucks and I felt it was generally loud. I was there on a Sunday and most places were shut, but groups of people gathered at different places and having a ‘good time’.

Anyways, locating Bunna Cafe isn’t quite difficult as it’s located on a busy street and the characteristic wooden exteriors. The cafe isn’t one of the largest that I’ve visited but surely one of the unconventional ones that I’ve visited.

Ambiance at Bunna Cafe Brooklyn
Ambience at Bunna Cafe Brooklyn

Just as you enter, you notice a large bar surrounded by tables across the place. There’s a small coffee brewing area in the centre where people can sit and see how Ethiopian coffee is made. The music too is Ethiopian which adds to the vibe of the cafe – the music was quite peppy. The interiors had elements that represented the ethnicity of the country and the neighbourhood. Overall, quite a peppy cafe.

Trying Ethiopian Food

Since I already had some research done about the food and cafe, I knew what I had to order. I glanced at the menu and ordered Beyaynetua classic Ethiopian platter served with variety of vegetarian or meat dishes along with Injera. However, they don’t serve it on Sunday for lunch. 🙁 That was a bummer, I had travelled a long distance to eat this and I missed reading that they don’t serve it on Sunday.

Anyway, I asked the lady to suggest some vegetarian dishes that I could try. She suggested Habesha Breakfast which I felt was a mini version of the Beyaynetu, Kosta and a couple of Injera breads. And being a new coffee aficionado, I ordered an Iced Bunna.

Ethiopian Food At Bunna Cafe
Ethiopian Food At Bunna Cafe

Habesha Breakfast consisted of Duba Fifir, Butecha, Kosta, and Injera. The Duba Fifir, a pumpkin dish, brings a refreshing seasonal touch, while the Butecha, reminiscent of dal but with its own twist, adds a hearty texture. Kosta, similar to Palak ka Saag, offers a comforting blend of greens. Quite a filling and refreshing dish. 

But the highlight of the meal had to be Bunna. The Iced Ethiopian Coffee that I had was one of the best coffees I’ve ever had. It was a black coffee with a dash of cardamom and cloves coupled with the coffee flavour and this was too good! Anyone visiting Bunna Cafe has to try this coffee. Either hot or cold, but you have to. It was so good, that I ordered another serving of it!

A memorable experience

Overall, my first experience with Ethiopian food was quite interesting and a memorable one. If I can say, whatever I had there was considerably close to Indian food in terms of the ingredients and spices. The cooking style is different which adds a unique element to the food.

I however regret not getting to try to Beyaynetu, but I hope to try it sometime later if life gives me another chance. But if you ever get a chance to try Ethiopian food, please try it, it’s quite different and I’m sure you’ll like it. 

If you’re in New York, there are quite a few Ethiopian food joints and Bunna Cafe is one of the most popular ones and hence I went there. So yes, a Maharaj-recommended place. Have you ever tried Ethiopian food? Let me know in the comments below, tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj, DM @Atulmaharaj on Instagram or Get In Touch.

About Atulmaharaj

A seasoned blogger and a content marketer for close to a decade now. I write about Food, Technology, Lifestyle, Travel, and Finance related posts. Blogging brings me joy and the best part is I get to read and e-meet so many amazing bloggers! PS: I'm also the founder for Socialmaharaj.com :) Favorite Quote: "Traveling is like reading a book, one who hasn't traveled, hasn't turned a page.

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