Tucked in a cozy old house near the West King neighborhood of St. Augustine, Back 40 Urban Cafe serves up Caribbean and Tex-Mex fare at reasonable prices in what could be your friend’s house.
From burritos and tacos to an array of giant salads with house dressings owner Brian Harmon raves about, Back 40 has been serving up food with a Caribbean flair in a unique restaurant setting since 2008. Harmon bought the place in 2011 after eating there with a friend and jokingly saying he was going to buy the place and add Corona to the beer list. He did just that later that year.
Although there’s no bar to sit at, the restaurant boasts wine and craft beer options, and one of the most popular happy hours in town with $2 Coronas and $2 chicken tacos.
The small house, with an open-air back porch, seats 85 in all.
Lunch and dinner is served every day, and specials change regularly for the casual neighborhood restaurant. Kids are welcome too, as Back 40 provides a separate kids menu.
How would you describe the restaurant’s atmosphere?
It’s very quaint, cozy and eclectic. It’s an old house, and each room is different. We have local art on the walls. People tell me it’s a very cool vibe.
What is your food philosophy?
Good food, good service is paramount. We make it fresh. We buy local when we can. We just try to do the right thing. We make everything in house, including our dressings, chili, sauces and salsas. We try to do a better job than the other guys. I feel that good service is just as important as quality food.
What type of cuisine do you specialize in?
It’s a mix of Carribean and Tex-Mex. We do a lot of different specials daily. We try to be creative, and come up with specials that would satisfy our customer base. We also make a lot of unique soups.
What is your signature dish?
Our Cuban sandwich and the wet burrito. The Cuban sandwich is probably the biggest seller, followed by the wet burrito. It’s a huge burrito filled with black beans, rice, red peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese and either avocado, mahi or chicken. People love our $2 happy hour tacos, too, everyday from 3-6 p.m.
What would you recommend for a first timer?
I really like the jerk chicken and pineapple quesadilla. But our salads are so good. I’m really proud of our dressings. I’m a Caesar freak, and we have one of the best Caesar dressings around, with real anchovies and parmesan. But I would recommend anything.