Brunch is frequently about excess.
Mountains of chicken and waffles with carafes of overflowing mimosas generally come to mind.
It can become disgustingly overbearing at times with every brunch spot frantically scrambling to come up with the newest Instagrammable item (I’m looking at you, $45 “megamosa” from Hero). With so many over-the-top choices, sometimes it’s best to take a step backward and stuff something into your face that won’t make you regret it two hours later.
For those seeking this option, Tribal All Day Cafe has you covered.
Tribal All Day Cafe is a teeny, tiny space in Bishop Arts that keeps its presentation about as simple as its healthy mindset. The majority of the space is taken up by the marble countertop bar, with the remainder filled with bleached wooded tables and stools. It's a brightly lit spot, with the relaxed atmosphere many could label “new-age hippy." It's a comfortable spot if you’re the kind of person who gets their chakras aligned every Tuesday, but not overbearing for the average among us.
The menu is served all day. While it's not a specific "brunch” menu, the food is decidedly so. Coffee, smoothies, breakfast bowls and juice lend itself to that Saturday and Sunday state of mind; so it counts.
The first item we got was the medicine man juice, a combination of lemon, orange, grapefruit and turmeric ($7). Turmeric, despite its extremely bright color, doesn’t have much of a flavor. While the health benefits are surely there, the juice was proudly overpowered by the grapefruit, with only hints of lemon and orange poking through.
The power bowl was next ($12). A hearty bowl consists of brown rice, black beans, arugula, two sunny-side up eggs and avocado and made for a pretty good deal. Making a dish that's simple with honest ingredients means that preparation is key. In this case, everything shot straight down the middle. While the overall dish wasn’t hugely impressive, nothing was oversalted, and nothing was bland, either. It was a combination of its components, without much added by pairing them together. Eating it did not, in fact, make me feel any more powerful.
What did pair together nicely was the breakfast of champions ($9). A crusty slice of whole-grain toast topped with a spiced cream cheese spread, sliced cucumber, salmon lox and an arugula salad was a delightful dish I was not expecting. The arugula was lightly dressed in a tangy vinaigrette, which dripped lovingly down onto the lox and cucumber below. The entire mix isn’t too far from a traditional lox bagel, but with a distinctly heartier aspect to it. The seeded bread keeps things supported through the dish, and ensures every bite has a bit of each ingredient. Eating it did, in fact, make me feel like a champion.
The last dishes we ordered were two of the smoothie bowls: a pool side ($9) and a pink paradise ($9). Both were equally fluorescent in color and robust in flavor.
The pool side is made of mango, pineapple, orange juice, coconut water and “blue majik,” a specific type of spirulina algae that is vibrant blue. While the “majik” doesn’t add any flavor to the dish, it's supposed health benefits do make it in. And even if it didn’t, its bright blue coloring would probably be enough to create a placebo and make me believe it did.
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The pink paradise is also a simple strawberry, banana and orange juice mixture that's more memorable for its grainless granola served on top. While the smoothie is creamy and refreshing, the granola (mostly made of nuts and seeds) is a particularly nice touch that lends some satisfying texture to the overall dish.
Tribal Cafe isn’t necessarily a place you’d take a gaggle of your friends to go pound down some bloody marys and eggs Benedict. Instead it's reserved for a more intimate setting. A setting where hundreds of grams of fat and salt don’t have to be ingested to have a good time, where things can go a little slower for just an hour or two.
While Tribal Cafe isn’t the usual brunch spot, it's what it is lacking that makes it a great brunch spot.
Tribal All Day Cafe, 263 N. Bishop Ave. (Bishop Arts). 469-776-8003. Open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Sunday.