Over a decade ago, the tiny room that now houses Cuban Sandwich Cafe held the best soul food restaurant in Austin; Big Earl’s. If the current tenants, the Reyes family can tap into the ju-ju that Big Earls incredible cooking surely left behind they will be in deep clover.
While it’s pretty clear that given the name of the restaurant one should seriously consider sampling a Cubano, my current project is reporting on the state of breakfast tacos in Austin Texas and that is solely what this review is based upon.
Walking in I spy one of the best looking pastry cases I’ve seen in Austin since the debut of Sugar Mama down in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood. Row after row of cream horns, loaves of bread, macarons and a panoply of other goodies, everything looking fresh and glowing with the good light that comes from serious baking skills.
Inquiring as to whether this baker has also produced fresh tortillas I’m met with the response I always dread, “no”.
I soldier on, ordering a bacon egg and cheese breakfast taco on corn tortillas. As the kitchen swings into motion I chat with the counter girl Crystal whose step dad Enrique Reye’s owns the shop and who also is the chef de cuisine.
Chef Reyes steps out of the kitchen for a moment and we chat. He’s a Cuban fellow who has moved his family to Austin from Miami Florida. I inquire as to how long he’s been a chef and he responds that he’s been cooking his entire life.
I want some of the fresh pastries so bad at this point I’m on the verge of a nervous collapse. Just then my taco arrives steaming hot from the kitchen. I pay for my sundries and make my way outside and into a light rain.
Cuban Sandwich Cafe’s bacon egg and cheese breakfast taco is plump with bacon, lightly scrambled eggs and covered with a good amount of cheese. Quality of the commercial corn tortillas is negligible. I content myself with daydreaming about the incredible versions of which I’m certain Chef Reyes is capable.
The red salsa is a fine purée tasting mainly of tomatoes, the acid a good counterpoint to the rich, egg-y taco.
I’m excited to march my way through Chef Reyes’ menu of fried catfish, huevos rancheros, tamales, Cuban pork, gorditas, empanadas and milkshakes [!].
Yes, a wise decision has been implemented; banana, blackberry, chocolate, guava and several other flavors of milkshake are being offered.
Northeast Austin has a new and major player in their food scene. Miami Florida’s loss is most definitely the Windsor Park neighborhood’s gain.
1804 Briarcliff Boulevard
About the Stars:
★★★★ Extraordinary, life changing
★★ Very good
Quality, price, service and ambiance are all taken into account when rating