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Makina Cafe, Popular Ethiopian and Eritrean Food Truck, to Open Brick-and-Mortar Restaurant in Sunnyside

Eden Egziabher, the founder and owner of Makina Cafe, in one of the business’s two food trucks (Courtesy of Makina Cafe)

Jan. 27, 2022 By Allie Griffin

The woman behind the popular Ethiopian and Eritrean food truck—Makina Cafe—will put down roots in Sunnyside this spring with the opening of her first brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Eden Egziabher plans to open Makina Cafe at 46-11 Skillman Ave. in mid-April, while still operating the business’s two food trucks. The location was previously occupied by Saffron Garden, an Indian restaurant.

The eatery will feature many of the menu items that have made the original food trucks successful, as well as additional dinner options, a full coffee bar and a cocktail list.

The menu will include popular items like injera–a rolled thin flatbread–and slow-cooked dishes seasoned with berbere and mitmita, traditional Ethiopian spice blends.

Makina Cafe is moving into 46-11 Skillman Ave. in mid-April, which was once occupied by Saffron Garden, an Indian restaurant. (Queens Post file photo)

Egziabher decided she would open a permanent restaurant roughly five years, shortly after starting Makina Cafe out of a truck. She said she wanted her food to have a full-time home for locals and residents to easily find and visit.

The Ethiopia-native knew from the beginning that Queens was the only borough of choice.

Egziabher, who lives in Astoria, shared that she currently travels to Brooklyn or Harlem whenever she has a craving for Ethiopian food that isn’t her own. She said the cuisine is shockingly missing from the borough that’s known for its diversity and food.

“You have pretty much people and food from every part of the world [in Queens], so I thought that it was strange that we don’t have a single Ethiopian Eritrean restaurant,” she said. “And if it was going to be anybody, I wanted it to be Makina.”

She landed on Sunnyside after finding the perfect storefront and falling in love with the neighborhood and its tight-knit community.

“Every single person that we talk to — whether they knew about Ethiopian food … or it’s the first time that they’re hearing about it — they’re welcoming us with arms wide open and expressing how excited they are,” Egziabher said.

A selection of food options from Makina Cafe (Courtesy of Makina Cafe)

She said she is excited to expand Makina Cafe’s menu to include options beyond those easy to eat on the go. She also plans to have an extensive coffee selection at the brick-and-mortar location.

“Ethiopian, Eritrean culture is deeply embedded in coffee,” Egziabher said. “From traditional style, the way that we served it growing up, to café style, and so I wanted to bring that to the neighborhood.”

Her team is also developing a cocktail menu that incorporates local and international influences as well as a full dinner menu that will include traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes as well as some new recipes inspired by East African tribes.

More than half of the menu will be vegan, as Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine is heavily plant-based, Egziabher said.

With the new storefront in Sunnyside, Egziabher also said she hopes to become involved in the community.

“We’re very much so looking forward to digging deeper into Queens and getting really planted in the community,” she said. “We’re definitely looking forward to getting to know how we can contribute in any way, shape or form into our community so we can make Queens and Sunnyside a pleasant place.”

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28 Comments

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Rachel

We are super excited! Makina is our favorite Friday night treat to order in, so being able to dine in just a few blocks away will be wonderful. I can’t wait! Welcome to the neighborhood!

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Bib

People here are getting carried away. I’ve eaten from that truck. It’s not that great. You will be disappointed.

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Sadeet

So many great things happening in Sunnyside. Great time to be a resident of this great neighborhood.

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Jim Bradford, USMC/USN (retired).

Thanks for advancing Ethiopian food State wide, and hopefully Nation wide. My ancestry on my father’s side, came from Gondar, Ethiopia. I have, my parents and siblings have visited Gonder.

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Ed

Hey Jim:
Thanks for your service but I don’t think Ethiopian food is the next big thing. It’s ok.

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Gardens Watcher

That spot has been empty for a long time. Will be nice to see diners in there once again.

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Soyme

I do hope they renovate inside. The pervious place felt very moldy. Other than that super excited for this place!

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Adriana Tredanari

Thrilled to have this new restaurant, especially in a space that has been empty for so
long! Skillman avenue is growing in ethic food diversity. Such as the excellent Dawa, Thai, Irish, Japanese, and Latino spots. Great Turkish grocery too. Sorry to have lost our only French restaurant tho’.

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Jean Carubia

So thrilled to hear this! Finally, a different cuisine in Sunnyside. Sorely needed. Good luck!

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Local Guy

We in Jackson Heights have a good spectrum of international eats but sure would enjoy you testing out a new neighborhood with a Mikina truck here. We love our Night Market.

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Neziah Bliss

Wonderful! I ordered from them last year and the food was A+! Surprised and excited to have them in the neighborhood!

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Sherry

I’m so excited about this restaurant coming to our little neighborhood. Especially that half the menu will be vegetarian. Good luck Makina Cafe!

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Michael

Great news !!!! I agree: hope the scaffolding is gone by then to show off your new place .

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Nathaly Spilotros

THIS HAS MADE MY DAY – I am so excited to have Ethiopian/Eritrean food in the neighborhood. Makina Cafe’s arrival can’t come soon enough!

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Anot21

Super excited ! Ethiopian good is extremely delicious, and indeed very difficult to find in queens! This is great news and an amazing addition to the neighborhood.

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Ben

The food truck menu looks pretty tasty, sounds like a great addition to Skillman. Good luck and welcome Ms. Egziabher!

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Fantastic

I’m very happy for this. They make great food, and that space has been vacant for too long!

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Gardens Watcher

Great news and welcome to the neighborhood! Hope you get a liquor license and the scaffolding on that building is gone by the time you open.

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