By Dylan Bailey
When I heard Amelia Island was welcoming another Cuban restaurant, I was excited. But a new bistro, in the already competitive market, begs the question: will they make a name for themselves, or be washed away by the competition?
1928 Cuban Bistro, on 122 S. Eighth St., opened its doors on March 26. While new to the island, the franchise has already made a name for itself around Jacksonville. Its Baymeadows location earned an impressive 4.5/5 stars from 269 reviews on Yelp.
As of this review, the restaurant is open daily. Sunday – Monday they open at 8 a.m. and close by 4 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday is the same opening time, but closing later around 6 p.m.
I decided to go early so I could try some of their coffee and snag a breakfast sandwich. Stepping inside the restaurant I was greeted with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and warm smiles.
The menu has a vast selection of items ranging from breakfast, lunch, coffee, and desserts. My eyes managed to land on the croqueta and egg sandwich ($7.95) and the cortadito ($3.95). I’d be lying if I said it was an easy decision because everything was mouthwatering.
Two other sandwiches I found myself eyeing were the tostada dulce ($6.95) and La Aly Babalu ($6.95). The former has cream cheese and guava preserves on medianoche bread, and the latter has ham and Swiss, with powdered sugar on sweet bread. Needless to say, I was extremely tempted to eat more than I should have.
As I waited for the sandwich, the cortadito came out freshly brewed and piping hot. It’s Cuban espresso with steamed milk, which was ridiculously creamy and smooth. The robust flavor of their espresso was able to shine, bursting through each sip. It was superb.
There are few things I enjoy more than an egg sandwich in the morning, so my stomach was grumbling when I got a good whiff of the croqueta and egg sandwich.
The sandwich features a beautifully fried ham croqueta, with an over-easy egg, and salsa verde on Cuban bread. My tastebuds weren’t prepared because I found myself mesmerized. Each bite was like a symphony of flavors that danced on my tongue and blended flawlessly.
The soft and fluffy Cuban bread had a light sweetness to it, and the proverbial cherry on top was the salsa verde. From the fragrant aroma to the robust flavors, I loved every second of this sandwich.
The breakfast and coffee offerings from 1928 Cuban Bistro get a huge thumbs up from me. I could easily see myself stopping in for a coffee regularly.
Since I’ve been able to write these reviews, I’ve found myself making two trips. I’m as much a customer as anyone else, so I was curious to see how they’d keep up during a busier time. I went back the following day, around 11:30 a.m., to try their lunch menu.
The lunch options are more varied, with sandwiches, rice plates, wraps, and salads. For this visit, I tried: The Elena Truth with Brie ($11.95), Magu’s yuca fries (6 for $2.95), Jupina soda ($1.95), and their classic flan ($5.95).
After ordering the food I went to the other side of the building to wait, and was greeted with a beautiful dining area. The aesthetic was vibrant, bright, and cozy. People were drinking coffee, and chatting with each other and the overall atmosphere was sublime.
Since the restaurant is still in its infancy, I did have to wait a while for the food. Even with the delay, the staff were courteous and continued to give me periodic updates as to when it would be ready. Once the food arrived, the savory and sweet aroma of the sandwich caught my attention immediately.
The Elena Truth was the item I couldn’t wait to dig into. Medianoche bread packed with turkey, cream cheese, bacon, and guava-strawberry preserves. I added some Brie cheese to mine, and I can confidently say that this was a decadent sandwich.
The smokey flavor of the turkey, against the buttery taste of Brie, with the sweetness of the preserves, was literal heaven. The sandwich was pressed too, much like a panini, and the sweet, light bread allowed for all the flavors to deliciously come together.
Once my food was done I dove into the Magu’s yuca fries, which was my first time having yuca. Calling them fries is an understatement because these were huge. Lightly breaded, which gave them a satisfying crunch, and salted to perfection. The fluffy inside had just the right amount of chew to complement each bite.
The Jupina soda paired with the salty fries worked better than I expected. I’d say it’s closer to carbonated juice, more so than a traditional soda, which is totally fine by me because the taste of pineapple was light and refreshing.
To end my feast, I went with the flan. The thick custard was incredibly smooth, with a hint of vanilla as it melted in my mouth. And to offset the creaminess of the custard, the top offered a distinct, toasted caramel flavor. Absolutely scrumptious.
Despite some growing pains, the bistro left a positive and memorable impression on me. Everything I ate was light, and bursting with flavor, and the coffee was velvety smooth with the perfect punch from the espresso. In terms of price, I was pleasantly surprised with what I got for my money.
If you’re looking to try something a little different, I’d highly recommend stopping by. From the warm smiles when you step inside, to the aromatic, flavorful food, and the vibrant dining area, 1928 Cuban Bistro is an absolute delight to dine at.