There's a new place to get a well-built sandwich in downtown Hollywood. J28, which opened several months ago, is taking the whole fast-casual model and giving it a Peruvian twist.
Founded by brothers and Peruvian natives Marco and Javier Rondon, the sanguchería at the heart of Young Circle on the outskirts of the city's downtown restaurant row is an Americanized take on the country's sandwich shop.
"So many people are familiar with Peru's most popular dishes," says Marco. "We wanted to bring our favorite taste of home here to the U.S."
J28, short for Peru's independence day on July 28, 1821, revolves around the brothers' two basic philosophies: to deliver approachable, easy-to-order Peruvian-style street food; and offer the high-quality ingredients and professional service you'd find at a fine restaurant.
A fast-casual eatery at its core, the restaurant features a small lunch counter line where sandwiches are assembled to order. Everything from the meats and cheeses to toppings and sauces are prepared in-house daily.
The bread is the best part, a light and airy Peruvian dough baked fresh several times a day. A simple alchemy of flour, yeast, and water, it's designed to have no taste, says Marco, to let the ingredients of each sandwich take center stage with your taste buds.
J28's menu offers a number of hearty sandwiches stuffed with classic and contemporary Peruvian ingredients. They're matched up with traditional sides and house-made drinks including chicha, Peru's native purple maize drink, here suited to American palates with a hint of fresh pineapple and lime juices and a touch of cinnamon and clove.
The signature sandwich is the butifarra: sliced pork, lettuce, and pickled onion served with a side of boiled potato and roasted corn. The most popular one -- and certainly the most tasty -- is the chicharron, thick slabs of pork belly topped with the pickled onions and boiled sweet potato.
Each sandwich tastes best with the addition of any of the three house-made sauces, the ketchup, mustard, and mayo of Peru. They're made with peppers sourced directly from the brothers' home country, including a traditional huancaina (yellow Peruvian pepper-based cheese sauce), a mellow aji amarillo, and creamy rocoto (Peruvian red pepper sauce).
You can also find a few Peruvian-inspired quinoa-based dishes, with a lomo saltado stir fry that combines hunks of tender Angus beef (or a mushroom version for the vegetarians) with fried onion, quinoa, cilantro, and tomato. You won't be in and out quite as fast -- these selections take about 15 minutes to prepare -- but you won't leave hungry.
J28 is located at 1854 N. Young Circle in Hollywood. Call 754-208-2902, or visit j28sandwichbar.com.
Nicole Danna is a food blogger covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.