El ZunZún, serving up authentic Latin American cuisine in the heart of Cahaba Heights, is now offering Sunday Brunch. The brunch menu features some of the popular items from the lunch and dinner menu (tacos served with rice and beans) as well as some dishes peculiar to the brunch menu (Chilaquiles Breakfast Sandwich: green chilaquiles, sliced Chihuahua, avocado, fried egg, créme fraiche).
The name “El ZunZún” refers to Cuba’s bee hummingbird, the mascot of the organization. Colorful wooden hummingbird figurines, crafted by Oaxacan artists, hang in the restaurant’s windows, and a large hummingbird is featured as a part of the restaurant’s logo.
We started with the Guacamole: avocado with lime, pickled tomatillo, pepitas, queso fresco, chili seed ash. The guacamole was very fresh and the pickled tomatillo added a great tang to the dish. Multiple salsas were brought to the table, including: salsa macha with tomatoes, smoky morita chiles, peanuts and garlic and a bright salsa verde made with tomatillos, cilantro, serranos and sour orange. A basket of whole round tortillas, freshly fried to a perfect crisp, were served alongside the guacamole and salsa. “We hand-make the tortillas every morning,” said Chef Jorge Lupo. “We make everything in-house that we can. For the salsa, we start out each day by charring the tomatoes,” he continued.
Bloody Maria: PePe Lopez tequila, tangy bloody Mary mix, lime, and lemon This was a great spin on a traditional Bloody Mary, with a little more bite.
Mezcal Michelada: Banhez Joven mezcal, hot sauce, lime, and a bottle of Cerveza Victoria served alongside to replenish the cocktail as it diminishes. This cocktail packed a lot of punch for brunch time.
The bar, decorated with handcrafted Mexican tiles, serves inventive cocktails, including the Hummingbird Margarita (el Jimador Silver Tequila, Royal Combier, agave and lime garnished with sal de gusano), which we tried and loved on a previous visit.
Named for Chef Lugo’s father, the Don Chano’s Empanadas, are a combination of chicharrones, masa, avocado crema, lettuce, and queso fresco. “It’s my Dad’s recipe, passed down from generation to generation,” said Lugo. “I will make it for you, but I will give the recipe to no one,” he continued.
We also had the traditional Huevos Rancheros (with steak added): crispy tortillas layered black beans, Chihuahua cheese, ranchera sauce, salsa verde, cilantro.
When asked about his favorite dish at the restaurant (outside of his father’s namesake), Chef Lupo named the Beef Short Rib Enchiladas with cactus fruit, tomatillo, Modelo Negra beer and local honey. Although this dish wasn’t offered on the brunch menu, we will certainly keep it in mind for our next visit at lunch or dinner.
Even though we were complete stuffed, Chef Lugo insisted that we try the Churros with Goats Milk Caramel; fried dough pastry with cinnamon and sugar. “You cannot leave without trying the churros,” he said to us. And were we glad we did! The Churros were very crispy on the outside, but doughy on the inside. The dulce de leche served alongside was fantastically rich.
El ZunZún is located at:
4105 Crosshaven Dr.
Vestavia Hills, AL
Hours of Operation:
Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday Brunch 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.