It finally happened. After over a year of adversity coming from the city of North Miami Beach, Jack was able to surpass all tribulations to open up his beloved Jefe’s Original Soul Shack. Jack is considered a pioneer in the Miami food truck scene, as he battled long and hard with city guidelines in order to pave the way for the facilitation of restaurants on wheels. His battles seemed to not have gone in vain, as it has become easier now more than ever to operate in the city. For this alone, we should thank Jack, but he means so much more than that to our culinary scene. In a sense, we need to consider him for what he is and what he offers. His food is non-pretentious, straightforward, and downright delicious.
Just like many other food truck operations, Jefe’s began as a need to collect funds in order to open up a brick in mortar. As mentioned previously, since Jefe’s was one of the originals, there were many hurdles to overcome, but this did not stop Jack. After a few years working on his extremely successful Jefe’s food truck concept, he decided it was time to finally open up his restaurant. He had already established his clientele and was known for making legitimate comfort food. So why not? Sadly, it worked better on paper than in reality, as the city of North Miami made it extremely difficult for an emerging businessman to thrive. At the end, Jack’s determination to not be defeated by the city pushed him forward to finally open his doors.
Jefe’s food is real, not over-inflated, and simple. Jack finds inspiration from past experiences with food that pulls his heartstrings. Every single item on the menu is something that is beloved to the owner, which makes dining here a personal experience instead of one coming straight from need for sustenance. The menu is an extension of what everyone has come to know and love from the truck, including the ever-famous tacos, all American burgers, and a few new items as well. The tacos are just like an authentic Mexican taco should be: simple, fresh, and harmonious. Although you won’t find more than four items topping each tortilla, they all combine to create a blending of flavors that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The All-American burgers are just what they sound like. The inspiration coming from the West Coast favorite In-N-Out is obvious, making for a burger eating experience that is the epitome of what a burger should be. The cheese is melted perfectly, the beef is fresh and succulent, the produce is fresh, and the bun is squishy slightly steamed to an almost pillow-like state.
If you want to try some of Jefe’s new menu items, I highly recommend the Pinche Cholo, an Angus Beef patty topped with carnitas, pastrami, pepperjack and American cheese, grilled onions, pickles, spicy ketchup, and mustard. The carnitas (slow roasted braised chunks of pork) and pastrami merge with the beef patty to create a ménage a trois of flavors that almost seems like cheating. How could topping a burger with pastrami and braised pork not be delicious? That in itself would make a delectable burger, but the cheese, grilled onions, pickles, and sauces makes for one of the messiest burgers around. Contrary to popular belief, I’ve always felt like this is exactly what a burger should be: an opportunity to become fully immersed in an indulgent sandwich that just brings satisfaction. By the way, did I mention that the sauces are homemade? The spicy ketchup, made with tamarind and chipotle, shows exactly what separates Jefe’s from the rest. Attention to detail and inspiring items are executed to the point of not having a weak spot on the menu.
From talking to Jack, you can tell that he is proud of his new restaurant. This is his baby, and talking about it brings a smile to his face. His love for the concept is contagious, making anyone who s sets foot into the location a fan. He plans to expand on his concept to different areas around South Florida, with places like Oakland Park, Davie, and Kendall in mind. I, for one, cannot wait for this to happen, but until then, you can find me at the Soul Shack devouring my Fish Tacos and Pinche Cholo.
Jefe’s Original Soul Shack
12581 Biscayne Blvd,
North Miami, FL 33181
By food blogger, Santiago Cardona