Food, whether you like it or not, is a political act. Every dollar is a vote: a show of support for a business, an ideology, a person of your community, a family. From root to tip, farm to table, in matters of accessibility and inaccessibility it all has political significance. Because in a world where ICE officers raid our neighborhoods striking fear in the hearts of hundreds, and Black members of our community continue to be racially profiled and violated, this is a good time as any to be political and walk the talk, all the while eating deliciously.
Here are seven ways to put your money where your mouth is.
Venezuelan food is usually synonymous with arepas, but at Santa Salsa, chef and owner Sergio Barrios makes the distinct and bold choice to go with out them. Instead you’ll find a menu replete of Venezuelan street food like hot dogs, burgers, pepitos (sandwiches), small platters and a full bar. Stop in for their Zanahoria hot dog, a plant-based alternative to their meat heavy menu, where Barrios’ culinary genius shines: using a carrot in place of a sausage. Menu items range from $5 to $19. Hot dogs range from $6 to $10.
234 Starr St
Monday – Friday 6pm – 11pm, Saturday 12pm-12am, Sunday 12pm-11pm.
On the border of Bushwick and Ridgewood lies one of the best Colombian breakfasts on this side of the borough: Son de Cali. That’s spanish for, “They’re from Cali,” a western Colombian city known in particular for its lulo fruit juice. And at Son de Cali, their stars are the juices, boasting a myriad of exotic fruits like lulo, maracuya, guanabana, tomate de arbol and more. Pair a glass with a classic arepa, rice and beans, or have a coffee and a buñuelo from their offering of fresh baked goods: a savory cheese bread rolled into a delectably sized ball. Entrees and baked goods range from $2.50 to $8.
877 Wyckoff Ave
Monday – Sunday 6 am – 7 pm, Sunday 7 am – 5 pm
A celebrated Bushwick institution, Tortilleria los Hermanos just recently got a vibrant signage upgrade after thirteen years of serving the community. Check it out and stay for the outdoor seating, cool BYOB policy and wafts of fresh tortillas rising. And while the tacos are not to be missed, getting out of your comfort zone for a picada, a thick sope-like maiz tartlet, will be very rewarding. Tacos, tostadas, tortas and more range from $1.50 to $4.50!
271 Starr St
Monday – Saturday 10 am – 11:30 pm, Sunday 12 pm – 11:30 pm
Ditch your cutlery and travel to Ethiopia for the night. Bunna Cafe, located in the heart of Bushwick, offers classic plant-based ethiopian dishes served on injera, a spongy sourdough flatbread that perfectly cradles fillings like misir wot, a lentil swimming in spicy and smokey berbere sauce. Also a perfect dish for sharing. If their food has you over the moon, which surely it will, sign up for one of Bunna Cafe’s monthly cooking classes, where you’ll learn all the elements for making some of their iconic dishes. Menu items range from $6 to $37.
1084 Flushing Ave
Monday – Friday 12pm – 11pm, Saturday – Sunday 11 am – 4pm, 5pm – 11pm
Francesca Chaney, a young entrepreneur, owns Sol Sips, where she dishes out healthy, warming and nourishing vegan dishes for the community. With a sliding scale system, she’s keeping healthy food accessible. Her menu ranges from nut milks and juices to breakfast burritos with chickpea scramble and stuffed plantain topped with sunflower seed mozzarella. Try her patties, with fillings like lentil, split pea and kale, you might find yourself going back for seconds, maybe thirds. Menu items range from $3 to $13.
203 Wilson Ave
Wednesday – Monday 10am – 8pm, Tuesday 12pm – 7pm
Classic arepas have a home in Bushwick. Ranging from pork to fish and vegetable, Arepera Guacuco, who was named best Venezuelan food in 2012 by the Village Voice, seem to have every variety. But for local plant-based chef, Tara Thomas, this is the place she gets empanadas. They’re made to order so she gets the vegetarian without cheese, and notes, “order the sangria to make waiting for the empanada to cool down less painful.” Menu items range from $4.50 to $15. Arepas and empanadas range from $5.50 to $9.
44 Irving Ave
Monday – Thursday 12pm – 11pm, Friday 12pm – 12am, Sat 11 am – 12 am, Sun 11am – 11pm
Dishing out some of the most authentic Salvadorian pupusas in the borough, Amanda’s kitchen serves up chicharron and bean, cheese, loroco (an edible central american flower), and squash blossom varieties: all for $2 with a side of curtido, a fermented slaw. If you’re early enough to catch her, second to the pupusas is Amanda, the sweet woman behind the service window hand-shaping each thick, chewy corn flatbread.
264 Suydam St
Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm
What other minority businesses do you support in Bushwick and Ridgewood? Let us know at [email protected]
Cover image of Sol Sips’ Francesca Chaney, courtesy of Aidan Loughran.
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