The bacon-cheddar-onion burger ($7) at B.C. Cafe is the kind of handheld menu item I know I'll be craving. Bacon and sauteed onion are first mixed with ground beef. Before the patty hits the grill, it's stuffed with a chunk of cheddar cheese. By the time it arrives, the cheese has melted, and the patty has the smoky flavor of the bacon and the grill.
It reminds me of the best kind of food-truck food: distinctly full-flavored and stick-to-your-ribs satisfying.
That's because Brett Chiavari — the B.C. in the 6-month-old restaurant's name — started business on the truck known as B.C. Tacos. The truck still rolls around Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. But Chiavari now has a home base, a spot to prep for the truck and his ever-increasing catering work.
Chiavari, 28, grew up in the catering business. His parents are trained chefs. His dad, Rick, is a partner in B.C. Cafe, and still maintains his full-time job at a Miami country club.
Brett Chiavari, who grew up in Coral Springs, majored in business management with a minor in hospitality at the University of Central Florida. After graduation, he went to work at a country club and then a hotel. He maintains the polite demeanor of a hospitality pro. Three years ago, he returned to South Florida to open his food-truck business.
His prehistoric-named menu items — the T-Rex, the Fred (as in Flintstone) — hit a chord in the overcrowded food truck scene. Almost everything Chiavari serves has extra oomph. Opening a sit-down restaurant, he says, was the next step.
No hole in the wall, the 62-seat location once served French food. It's in a small office building. You order from the counter — hopefully from the polished woman named Kat — and your meal is delivered in a plastic basket.
Even a basic steak taco — the Hunger ($4) — has a little something extra in the beef. Otherwise, it's a standard taco in a hard-corn or soft-flour tortilla with lettuce and cheddar. The Encino Man ($4) takes the basic mahi mahi taco to the next level by cooking the fish in Buffalo sauce.
The Gatherer ($4) is a lacto-ovo vegetarian's dream: Avocado is breaded and flash-fried, served with regular taco fixings along with a squirt of spicy chipotle mayo. The taco special the other day was shrimp pad Thai ($5) made with kimchi and scallions. These were my favorite tacos.
The menu also includes five burgers ($6-$7), three salads ($6-$7) and three wraps ($8). The shrimp Caesar wrap combines crisp romaine, grilled shrimp and creamy dressing inside a spinach wrap. It's the kind of thing you could eat for lunch every day. We also couldn't resist the Fred ($3), one of three sliders. This one has braised beef short ribs, lettuce and melted mozzarella. You can tell Chiavari thought about the bread, a slightly sweet Parker House-style roll. French fries ($2) were nicely crispy. Sweet-potato fries ($3) were even better.
B.C. Cafe maintains the innovative free spirit of a food truck. Chiavari serves breakfast tacos ($2.50-$3.50), and once a month does Sunday brunch.
On Tuesdays, he makes Cromagnuts ($3.75), his version of the Cronut, a glazed doughnut/croissant hybrid. I even like the sound of his Thanksgiving offerings, which include candied yams and pumpkin tortellini.
Atrium Centre, 4801 S. University Drive, Davie
Hours: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; brunch on the third Sunday of every month
Reservations: Not required
Credit cards: All major
Bar: Beer and wine
Sound level: Moderate
Outside smoking: No
For kids: Highchairs, kid-friendly menu items
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: Free lot