New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Donna: A perfectly minimalistic blend of brunch dishes and Latin flavors

Located a couple blocks west of Washington Square Park, Donna is a charming spot for refreshing drinks and light Latin-inspired dishes made to share.
Krish Dev
Donna serves cocktails and Pan-Latin dishes on 7 Cornelia St. (Krish Dev for WSN)

Nestled right in the middle of Cornelia Street, Donna might escape your notice at first glance. Without a big sign begging for your attention, it seamlessly blends in with surrounding buildings. But the moment you step through its doors, you’ll find yourself in a desert oasis, surrounded by warm beige walls and subtle potted cacti. The chill and intimate vibe inside sets the perfect tone for a weekend brunch or light dinner. 

Donna has been a New York City staple since 2012. Its original location was in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, though the restaurant closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new West Village location opened in May 2023, with the restaurant transitioning to become worker-owned cooperative.

Every new employee we hire is offered a path to ownership, and each worker-owner at Donna has an equal stake in the business,” worker-owner and general manager Lauren Ruiz said. “The goal is to share the workload and responsibility across the owners and have people feel more invested in the business as a whole. For instance, several of our employees have contributed different cocktails and ideas to our new brunch food and drink menus, which speaks to our team’s collective creativity and trust in one another.” 

A sign outside Donna’s that reads “Join us for BRUNCH 11-4.”
Donna serves its brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Krish Dev for WSN)

Every Saturday and Sunday, the restaurant offers a brunch menu featuring seven items to choose from. The simplicity of the menu enhances the overall minimalistic ambiance of the space. It’s definitely a relief to not have to scan through pages of options, especially in the early morning when your decision-making might not be at its peak. If you’re not able to make the restaurant’s 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. brunch slot, you can always stop by after 5 p.m. to check out the dinner menu, which features a spread of small plates, three entrees and two dessert options.

Donna’s menu is a fusion of Pan-Latin inspirations, offering a diverse range of dishes, all of which cost around $20. As the seasons change, so does the restaurant’s menu. Two highlights from this season’s cocktail menu include the 5th Year Senior and the Gap Year. Both of these options will provide a refreshing start to your day, and the one you choose will depend on your flavor preference. The 5th Year Senior adds a subtle textural twist with tonic water, giving you a sparkling sensation with each sip. Ginger is the drink’s dominant flavor, offering a zing that’s smooth and not too overpowering. If you prefer something more citrus-forward, the Gap Year should be your go-to. It’s similar to orange juice, but as you keep sipping, you’ll start to taste hints of mango. For those of you who don’t drink, both of these drinks have a non-alcoholic version, and Donna plans to launch a few more non-alcoholic cocktail specials for January, according to Ruiz.

Two glasses with Donna’s Freshman Fizz and Gap Year brunch cocktails on a wooden table.
Freshman Fizz and Gap Year brunch cocktails. (Krish Dev for WSN)

All of Donna’s food items are meant to represent traditional flavors and are designed to be shareable. While typical burritos for brunch sounds like an experience that would leave you with your hands wrapped around your stomach unable to have another bite, Donna’s pork shoulder burrito defies expectations — it’s extremely light. The tortilla, crisp and toasted, gives way to a soft interior filled with sweet potatoes. A subtle spice adds a lingering warmth that balances nicely with fresh veggies like lettuce. Topping it all off are pickled onions, introducing a gentle acidity that ties together the sweetness and spice in nice harmony. Unlike the typical burrito, which is at risk of falling apart with each bite, Donna’s creation stays intact until the very last bite.

If the idea of a burrito for brunch doesn’t quite convince you, give the restaurant’s pupusa a try. The dish resembles a pancake, but this batter is crafted from beans. It doesn’t offer a range of textures, being soft enough that your fork and knife will effortlessly glide through the dish. The pupusa is topped with a sunny-side-up egg and accompanied by a side of avocado, which will put you back into breakfast mode. Both the pupusa and burrito are served with nicely salted papas bravas.

Speaking of texture, Donna’s migas offer a delightful contrast with its crisp pieces of tortilla, providing a lighter touch compared to the softness of the pupusa. Topped with scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, sour cream and salsa, it’s like enjoying a less heavy version of nachos or chilaquiles. With this dish, you’re mostly in for a textural journey as there is the perfect amount of sauce on top, ensuring the chips stay crispy no matter when you decide to eat them. 

You can’t have a typical breakfast without French toast, and Donna makes it perfectly. It somehow manages to be both crispy and soft, while extremely moist — a combination you might never consider possible. The sweetness is impeccably balanced, allowing for an enjoyable experience without overwhelming the palate. The addition of syrup on the side, rather than making the dish excessively sweet, delicately enhances the flavors that are already present in the dish.

A white dish with Donna’s French toast on a wooden table.
French toast. (Krish Dev for WSN)

Donna invites you to savor each moment as colorful flavors dance on your palate amid an inviting ambiance. With its worker-owned cooperative model to the ever-evolving, Latin-inspired menu, this is a place you will want to check out. 

Though its location is discreet, its charm is inescapable — it’s easy to miss, yet proves impossible to overlook.

Contact Adrianna Nehme at [email protected].

About the Contributors
Adrianna Nehme, News Editor
Adrianna Nehme is a sophomore still trying to decide what to major in. Originally from a small town in Indiana, she moved to Chicago, Illinois for high school — where she was also the news editor for the school paper! She loves experiencing music live at concerts, seeking restaurants to try in the city and reading fiction novels — her all-time favorite is "The Cider House Rules" by John Irving. Check out her latest adventures on Instagram @adrianna.nehme.
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with the other Multimedia Editors, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.
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