New Mexico-style burritos — known for their addition of New Mexico chiles and shredded potatoes — are a rarity in New York City. But chef Eric See, who’s worked under esteemed pastry chefs like Karen DeMasco, is hoping to change that with his new restaurant the Awkward Scone Cafe, an expansion of a three-year pop-up.
At the airy and plant-filled, 16-seat cafe, See makes three kinds of breakfast burritos: one with chorizo, New Mexican red chile, white cheddar, scrambled eggs, and hash browns; another with all the same ingredients except for New Mexican green chile and bacon; and a third, vegan option with refried Navajo pinto beans, chipotle salsa, New Mexican green chile, and hash browns.
The green chile also finds its way into several dishes at the Awkward Scone, including the namesake scone that’s also topped with cheddar, as well as a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, served on a chile-infused housemade brioche.
Restaurants featuring food from the American Southwest are few and far between in NYC — Javelina and newcomer Banty Rooster are among that select group, and the Awkward Scone is the latest to join that list.
The dishes are a nod to See’s childhood growing up in New Mexico, and all the New Mexico chiles are shipped directly from the state to the cafe in Bushwick, located at 1022 Broadway, between Willoughby Avenue and Suydam Street. This past weekend, he carried a big batch with him on his flight back to New York for the cafe, which he owns with pastry chef Erin Emmett.
“The burritos have been really popular at the cafe — more so than I was anticipating,” says See. “This is what I grew up eating, and this is me trying to tell my story.”
See has been working in kitchens since he was 11 and made the move to New York City ten years ago. He started honing his baking skills under DeMasco at the Tribeca Italian restaurant Locanda Verde, then under pastry chef Zac Young and celebrity chef David Burke, before branching out on his own. Since launching the Awkward Scone, he’s popped up at markets such as Artists and Fleas, the Grand Bazaar, and the Hester Street Fair.
Besides food, the cafe focuses on herbal teas that come in the form of lattes and loose leaf options — all of the blends are made in-house. Drinks include the horchata latte that’s made with Rooibos, toasted rice, vanilla bean, and cinnamon; the sakura latte made with matcha, cherry blossom, and vanilla bean; and a rose lemonade infused with Palo Santo, a type of wild tree native to the Yucatán Peninsula.
The Awkward Scone is also part of a small but steadily growing group of restaurants that choose to identify their establishments as queer, similar in fashion to Meme’s Diner in Prospect Heights. After opening to friends and family earlier this year, the Awkward Scone hosted a Friendsgiving dinner organized by the queer food publication, Jarry magazine. Now that the cafe is open to the public, part of the proceeds from the sales of the rainbow cookies support LGBT organizations such as Immigration Equality and the Ali Forney Center.
The space will also serve as a canvas for a rotating set of artwork from local artists, and come summertime, See is hoping to open the backyard for community events.
“As queer people, we’ve often had to stay in the shadows or be discriminated against in places we helped create,” says See. “To put a big queer stamp on our food is really important. It’s a way to show that there are safe places for people to hang out.”
The Awkward Scone is open Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.