Buns & Buns: Value-Priced Fresh Bread and Grilled Meats
The buns of Buns & Buns.
Photos by Laine Doss
Buns & Buns was something of a mystery for a while. Not much was known about the restaurant except its location, name, and a vague concept including bread and grilled meats. In fact, even the public relations firm hired to work with the place couldn't get a menu before it opened.
See also: Buns & Buns to Open in January 2014
When I finally walked into the small space that once housed OMG! Burgers and featured a presidential visit, I wasn't sure what to expect. Buns & Buns can be considered a fast-casual restaurant -- order at the counter, get a number, and wait for your food. The menu has a simple premise: Several proteins at three price points are offered, each with a side and a bun (which can be substituted for a different bread).
There are also some appetizers and salads (the only vegetarian options). All are priced by category, with bites offered at $5; salads at $10; grilled items at $10, $15, and $20; and desserts at $8. The restaurant also serves beer, wine, and cocktails. It should be noted that this is not a sandwich shop. You'll find no burgers, tuna melts, or turkey clubs. The menu clearly states that fact in case you didn't get it when perusing the options: "This, sir, is not a sandwich shop." Nevertheless, with a plate filled with grilled meat or seafood, slaw, and a warm bun, you'll catch on quickly that a fresh sammie is within reach.
The breads are baked daily and, as befits the name, are a focal point of the menu. Cravers of carbs can also purchase the buns individually ($1.50 each) as a snack or to take home. Once ordered, the food gets to your table quickly (mine took about ten minutes). When I arrived at 2:30 p.m. to taste some menu items, the restaurant was humming with a mix of moms picking up their kids from local schools and shoppers out for a late lunch. Here's what I tried:
Is the O'Pama cocktail a nod to when the president visited this location? I pondered the question while sipping a blend of Pama, sake, watermelon juice, and lime ($8).
The name sounds like something out of South Park, but spinach poofs, served on a bed of tahini, are a good start to a meal ($5).
Roasted heirloom tomato salad with burrata, watermelon, and avocado ($10).
A huge platter of lamb ribs with slaw and an herb bun is a value at $10.
Thick, tender pork belly, served with slaw, bourbon sauce, and a steamed bun, is just waiting to be assembled into a megasandwich ($15).
Chili-rubbed shrimp is served with aioli for dipping. I asked for cheese naan ($15, plus 50 cents for the naan).
Do not, under any circumstances, miss the Lost Bun for dessert if you're a fan of bread pudding ($8). A brioche bread pudding is baked with candied orange peel and served with arancia creme, rum sauce, and caramelized pecans ($8).
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.