Ruby’s Café, or Ruby Soho, as the San Fran punk band Rancid sings about is an Australian gem that started out small and has become a hot spot for ex-pats and New Yorkers alike.
Yes, Virginia, there really is a genuine Aussie burger in New York. It’s at Ruby’s Cafe.
I remember the first time I stumbled upon a place that served egg, beetroot (beets as the locals call it) and all sorts of other Australian flavor combinations on a burger. I’d begun to think that I’d never get a chance to enjoy these tastes outside of down under. The quintessential American burger is a puritan experience. It is judged solely on the quality of the patty, which is served with the same expectations of a good steak. They will actually ask whether you want your burger rare, medium, or well done. To me a well done burger is one with the works on it, no matter how well it’s cooked. Most American burgers come deconstructed with unwieldy battered onion rings and pickles splayed across the plate.
So you could say the first time I stumbled across Ruby’s on Mulberry Street, Nolita, a former haven for mafia hit men and organized crime social club, now treated more like Little Bondi than Little Italy, that there was almost a tear in my eye when I saw the sandwich board advertising a Bondi Burger. And when they brought out an icy cold Cooper’s Red, I’d be loath to admit that there were dribbles of something coming down my cheeks. Damn allergies.
Ruby’s Cafe has been a fixture from as far back as 2003; the bad old days when the only coffee you could get here was drip and avo on toast was a secretly practiced tradition in studio apartments of expats around the city. Today, emotions and any homesickness aside, we revisited Ruby’s Cafe for breakfast. A rainy day, it scared off all but the loyalists and we avoided any queuing. The staff are all Aussie and ridiculously beautiful, fresh faced and positive. They’re too new to the city to be jaded, overworked or to become hooked on Seamless deliveries.
Aussies, Aussies Everywhere
Sharing our table is a Design Director from another ad agency and to our left is a Korean film crew shooting a small segment that makes the Aussie diet out to consist of about twenty cans of Coke (or maybe that’s the crew’s). I order the breakfast bowl, a fresh, healthy option with brown rice, kale, spinach, pesto and boiled eggs. Jess tackles a new take on banana bread with a passionfruit butter that sounds frustratingly delicious. God I miss passionfruit. Neither disappoints.
A little Aussie slang to get the Americans talking
No wonder these people maintain their perfect complexions and figures and no wonder there’s always queues 30 people long for brunch. If you’re a local and want an education in quality, fresh flavors or you’re one of a zillion Aussies living in New York, Ruby’s should be on your list. Plus they sell Aussie beers!
Ruby’s Cafe is an Aussie cafe in New York’s Nolita (North of Little Italy) and Murray Hill.
Soho: 219 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012
Murray Hill: 442 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Expect queues. This place is always popular. The food is great and the coffees are strong.