Once a dish becomes subject of a single-concept food cart or Smorgasburg stand, you know it’s well on its way to joining the mainstream; Lumpia Shack helped popularize Filipino spring rolls, mofonGo gave a leg up to mashed plantains, and Bon Chovie even sparked a renewed, city-wide interest in small bait. And The Shuka Truck (recently nominated for a Vendy Award), has doubtless done the same for shakshuka, a Tunisian dish of poached eggs simmered with tomatoes, peppers, cumin and other toasted spices, and served in a cast iron skillet or tajine, with some form of flatbread for mopping up the sauce.
Not that Brooklyn is wholly unfamiliar with shakshuka, in fact, it’s long been a brunchtime staple at restaurants the borough over, as a deeply savory, assertively spicy counterpoint to the bland tyranny of pancakes, waffles and American cheese omelets. And since the dish itself differs wildly from region to region—studded with green chilies in Yemen, dotted with sausage in Morocco, and occasionally paved with tahini, harissa or clumps of salty cheese—it’s correspondingly unique from eatery to eatery. So here’s where to dine on a wide range of shakshukas in Brooklyn, from Mimi’s Hummus to Café Mogador and beyond.
Mimi’s Hummus: Although you can order the classic shakshuka (tomato stew and sunny side eggs laced with roasted onions) all day long at this Israeli spot, you’ll actually find three separate versions available during weekend brunch, including green shakshuka, bolstered with braised swiss chard and a smattering of sheep’s feta, and shakshuka marguez, bobbing with hunks of spicy, juicy lamb sausage.
1209 Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Park
The Shuka Truck: In the running for the “Rookie of the Year” award during the 2015 Vendy’s, this 100 percent kosher truck is the brainchild of three childhood best friends, with a mutual affinity for shakshuka. Featuring organic eggs and farm tomatoes, and served in a pita or on a platter, the classic stew comes in a trio of permutations: “Red” contains bell peppers stung with fiery harissa, tart, nubbly za’atar, milky feta, and honey; “Green” gets an acute veggie boost with asparagus, zucchini, spinach, and oregano; and “White” is fairly out of the box, featuring a base of eggplant, oyster mushrooms, and charred onions, topped with woodsy needles of thyme and crumbles of blue cheese.
Glasserie: Fragile poached eggs and outcroppings of tahini-smeared bread peek out like just-submerged islands, in the cumin-rich, red pepper-zapped ocean of spicy tomato stew at Glasserie.
95 Commercial Street, Greenpoint
Zizi Limona: The name refers to the “mythical Mediterranean mother” that inspires the menu’s multi-regional offerings, from Israel to Lebanon to Morocco. And it’s easy enough to imagine some garrulous, pleasingly plump Zizi, holding court over fragrant cauldrons of shakshuka, sneaking in slippery, smoky chunks of eggplant, and earthy ribbons of tahini.
129 Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg
Café Mogador: Labeled as “Moroccan Eggs,” Café Mogador offers a rather streamlined take on shakshuka; their version features a swath of brilliantly crimson tomato paste puddled around impeccably poached eggs, paired with triangles of puffy pita and a dainty side dish of harissa, for judiciously upping the heat factor. Although non-traditionalists might find themselves drawn to the Moroccan Benedict instead, stacked over soft English muffins, and striped with French hollandaise.
133 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg
Yemen Café: The classic Yemeni shak-shooka features scrambled eggs instead of poached, stirred into an already simmering sauce of chopped plum tomatoes spiked with green chilies and hawaij (a heady mix of turmeric, black pepper, cumin and cardamom), and served with char-dotted spheres of clay oven baked bread.
176 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Heights; 7130 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge