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BC Cafe Has Evolved From a Food Truck to Brick and Mortar

The Caveman is the megalodon of the BC Tacos menu. Touted as a specialty, it is a mammoth sandwich, a meaty marriage of steak, braised beef, short rib, and an all-beef burger patty stuffed between two hard taco shells.

It continues with another layer of ingredients — wrapped in a flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato, and cheese — and sealed so you'd never imagine all that glorious beefy goodness beneath. It's so much food, you can imagine that even Brutus — the truck's official caveman mascot — would have a hard time finishing one.

Four years after its inception, Brett Chiavari's BC Tacos food truck has received a number of accolades not just for this sandwich but for his colorful array of gourmet street tacos. Since launching in 2011, BC Tacos (named not for the years in the Gregorian calendar but for its founder's initials) has been a three-time nominee for Food Truck Taco of the Year by Mobile Cuisine; has been the People's Choice Best Food Truck and Best Taco Truck by Burger Beast, South Florida's resident burger expert; was named "One of the healthiest food trucks in the U.S." by sheknows.com and "One of the eight most essential food trucks in Miami" by Eater Miami; and is considered to be among the Top 10 Food Trucks around Miami by Zagat.

"Man, the things I could do with a taco."

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You could go so far as to say Chiavari is considered one of the founding fathers of the South Florida food-truck scene — quite an accomplishment for the now 30-year-old who relocated from the Orlando area, where he worked as assistant food and beverage manager for a country club before deciding to break out and start a food truck.

Although his parents were trained chefs, Fort Lauderdale native Chiavari says he doesn't consider himself a cook, but a creator. In fact, it was a chance meeting with his first fish taco in his early 20s that led to a love affair with the familiar food.

"I tried one for the first time off the lunch menu at work and thought to myself, Man, the things I could do with a taco," says Chiavari. "I began experimenting with different ingredients to see what I could come up with. At one time, I had more than 40 recipes I was working on. From there, it just snowballed. One day I woke up, quit my job, and moved back home. A few months later, BC Tacos was up and running."

Ask any self-respecting South Florida taco lover and he'll most certainly confirm an intimate knowledge of Chiavari's ten best-selling tacos, from the Encino Man (buffalo mahi) and T-Rex (chicken) to the Fred (braised beef short rib), each gourmet-style taco served in homemade hard corn tortillas with a side of fresh pico de gallo. One of Chiavari's first recipes, the Pulled Pork Prehistoric, is still on the menu, a barbecue pulled pork served with coleslaw and corn.

These days, Chiavari offers more than tacos, however. After several years of running one of the area's most successful food trucks, the young entrepreneur decided to deliver his first brick-and-mortar concept, located off University Drive in Davie. Doors opened in April 2013, the café serving everything from breakfast to dinner on weekdays, with an added brunch menu on Sunday.

"When I first started, I was one of the very few doing something solely dedicated to tacos," says Chiavari. "After my first few events with the truck, I quickly realized what we were doing was definitely something special. And we knew the next progression for building the brand would be to move into a brick and mortar. We'll always have the truck, but we also wanted one location where people could go anytime to have our food."

Today, truck manager Paul Litwin roams Broward County with a rotating staff of 13 employees, following the same weekly route the truck has traveled for the past four years. You'll find Chiavari there too, splitting his time between the café and mobile unit every day, helping to serve food in places as far south as Hollywood and north to West Palm Beach. His fans can track the truck's whereabouts online or by using social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that alert followers to the weekly schedule.

At the café, things are a little different. Chiavari and his executive chef, Matt Webb, have created a wide-ranging menu of multifaceted dishes — burgers, sliders, salads, wraps, breakfast items, even ramen.

You might be surprised to learn you won't find the Caveman here, but you will find many of the truck's best tacos. There's the Hunter, a simple combination of ground steak with lettuce and cheddar, or the Mammoth Mahi, large slabs of char-grilled dolphin served the same way.

Chiavari will recommend his personal favorites, however, including the Stone Age Shrimp, a flour tortilla packed to the brim with whole grilled shrimp braised in a garlic, shallot, and white wine sauce and finished with a special blackening seasoning blend before it's topped with shredded cheddar and lettuce.

The short rib taco, AKA the Fred, is another specialty with tender tangled mass of beef smothered in mozzarella cheese. The same meat — braised for several hours with red wine, tomato purée, onion, brown sugar, and beef stock — can be ordered as a slider for $3, labeled under "Big Things in Small Packages."

Then there's the Gatherer. It's sort of the ham of all the tacos, says Chiavari, ripe slivers of emerald-green avocado tossed in a secret panko breading and deep-fried until the shell crisps up to a satisfying crunch. Almost an entire avocado is served in each taco, wrapped up with lettuce, mozzarella cheese, and a creamy chipotle mayo.

What really sets BC Cafe apart from its mobile counterpart are the weekly specials, offers you won't find at the truck. Chiavari has organized a special menu lineup that changes from week to week, and he rotates offerings every month to feature new recipes. The most popular is Taco Night, the last Saturday of each month, when five specialty tacos make an appearance from 5 to 10 p.m. — four savory and one dessert — ranging in price from $5 to $6 each. Then there's the sampler platter for $18, which makes it easy to try them all, mini versions of each.

On Friday, the café features an all-day happy hour during which you can buy two tacos and get a third free. If tacos aren't in your plans, later that night, the café does something unexpected: ramen. Giant bowls of steaming chicken katsu or pork belly and oxtail, homemade stocks, and broths come with all the fixings, from a golden-centered, soft-boiled egg to tender nibs of corn.

Then, on Sunday, there's brunch. Chiavari's experimenting never ends, made evident with a menu of equally creative dishes, from a breakfast burger and bananas Foster French toast to chicken and waffle sliders with cayenne pepper and maple syrup to beef bulgogi and kimchi grits served with a sunny-side-up egg.

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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna

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