El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette looks exactly what it sounds like. A low key coffee shop that sells a beach towel with an avocado print spread across it while selling jacked up Kale Salads all day everyday. Breakfast and brunch are pretty crowded because they obvi have avocado toast, chia seed breakfast pudding, and an interesting roasted beets & granola pair which I’d love to get my hands on. The menu is very vegan and vegetarian friendly, yet it does not leave us carnivores out with egg, chorizo, and seafood additions. I admit, it’s truly hard to find a casual spot for dinner in the city that doesn’t feel like you are waiting at a counter or in an NYU establishment with a dining room that has intense bright lights. El Rey gives you that intimate lighting with high top tables which conceals the earlier idea that it is indeed a coffee and breakfast spot.
The dinner menu may look a little slim and uncertain, but once that chef starts massaging that kale in the back by the neon “El Rey” sign and once it hits the table in front of you looking like a deep never ending bowl, you’ll never hate on kale again. You might even consider purchasing one of those (lame) KALE t-shirt’s that use the same font as the prestigious YALE University. Yes, I thought kale has had more than enough time in the spotlight, but when you encounter this almond vinaigrette, it changes everything. You’ll want to shout above the rooftops, or in our case, order a SECOND serving and cancel your other dish, because, yes, it is that life changing. Upon first glance, I did have my doubts thinking there is nothing in this bowl but this green leaf, but the dressing steals the show. Definitely order this, or two.
Next, we had the Shaved Cauliflower with Chickpea Vinaigrette, White Sesame, and Poached Egg. This is the kind of dish that definitely grows on your. It might have been better to have it pre-kale, so that it stood some kind of chance. Overall, it’s a great size and very shareable between a crew. At $10-11 a pop for these veg-centric plates, you’ll never cry at the bill again. For some protein heavier options, we loved the Sardines with Carrot Top Dressing, Peppers, Radishes, Cultured Butter. It’s very California of them with the tostada.
El Rey is super affordable and delivers great food, flavors, and not your typical menu. There’s a little Spanish, Mexican, and West Coast hints in each dish, and you feel light bouncing out of the cute little shop. There are only a few tables, so make your mark at night (they have drinks) when it’s not crowded or grab a breakfast bowl to-go in the a.m. Everything in here feels real and wholesome and you should be confident in putting all of their ingredients into your body. Gang’s safe here!