Again and again I fall in love with Jacksonville food trucks for a simple reason – the food they produce is authentic. When there are only 5-10 menu items available, you know the quality will be superior because they’re focused intently on these few things. Recently I was invited to try Son of a Butcher and their famous cheesesteaks, which being a southern girl, I admittedly have had little exposure to in life. Thankfully I was rescued by the expertise of Randy Leibl and Danyelle Smialkowski, the operators of SOB, who are far from new to cheesesteaks. Randy has lived all over the country and has a passion for cooking and a particular passion for authenticity in what he serves. Danyelle is from Baltimore and wanted to recreate the traditional flavors of the philly for Jacksonville. They’ve been serving the Jacksonville area for about a year and a half now, so I was well overdue trying out their food.
Son of a Butcher sandwiches are not for the faint of heart, so I went with two friends to share several things from the menu so I could get a good gauge of the food. We ordered a chicken cheese steak ($8), a Mayport S.O.B. (the signature menu item, $10), and shrimp tacos (rotating special). While we were waiting on our food, Randy had just prepared some fresh garlic parmesan fries ($5) and let me try a few. Just. Wow. The fries were thin and crispy and coated with crumbly parmesan and sharp garlic. I’ve never had fries that just melt when you eat them, but I had all sorts of umami feelings surging around my body. That appetizer had me very excited about what was to come. I’m allergic to bell peppers, so these were no-pepper cheese steaks, but please note they do normally come with peppers diced into the meat and onions. For philly traditionalists, the Jacksonville’s Best Original Philly ($8) comes with cheese whiz, which I know can be a make or break for people. So don’t panic, the cheese whiz is present!
First up for us to try was the chicken cheese steak, which has chopped chicken and onions on top of provolone, shredded lettuce, and sliced tomato served on the softest butteriest bread. This sandwich is stellar. The chicken is shredded perfectly with just the right amount of integrated onions to add a note of sweetness. The provolone was directly under the chicken so it slightly melted down into the tomatoes and lettuce to meld everything together. I highly recommend adding some of the jalapenos on the condiment bar to this sandwich, as it amped it up and added the perfect layer of heat. This was by far the lighter of the two sandwiches but still an absolute feat to finish, even with us sharing.
Our second sandwich, the Mayport S.O.B. is the speciality at Son of a Butcher and aptly named. This sandwich is covered in thinly sliced fresh rib eye steak, mixed with freshly grilled Mayport shrimp then placed on top provolone cheese, lettuce and tomato, grilled onions (and usually peppers), and served in the same soft bread as the chicken philly. The shrimp at Son of a Butcher are absolutely divine. They are sliced longwise so they’re cooked tenderly all the way through and you can taste the true right out of the ocean freshness that we love in our Jacksonville seafood. Everything about this sandwich made me sigh with happiness. It’s heavily loaded with steak and shrimp, the provolone melted down as it did under the chicken, and the lettuce and tomato balanced the heavy meats with a crisp lightness. I’m actually pretty upset that I waited so long to experience this sandwich. It’s a real hidden gem in Jacksonville and really brings local flavors into a non-local dish. I wish all surf and turf was presented this immaculately. These two sandwiches were so massive it’s hard to believe that you get this much food for the price point. Each sandwich could easily be shared by two people (we did this and still had leftovers). So if you’re really hungry and need a filling and comforting sandwich, this will do the trick!
Our final entree were the shrimp tacos, which again showcased our Mayport specialty exactly how it should be. The shrimp tacos were dressed with cabbage, tomato, and covered in grated cheese (this was an excellent cheese to taco ratio) and “Tripp sauce” which is one of two SOB speciality sauces. Everything together on this taco built the shrimp tacos that we’ve been searching for in Jacksonville. They have the clearly defined flavors of the beach mixed with just a little spice and extra flair. I loved these tacos. I would order them again and again. They’re light and refreshing and would please any beach local.
I was so pleasantly surprised by Son of a Butcher. For something that I’d always been intimidated to try, simply because I wasn’t educated on it, Randy andDanyelle made it easy for me to see what true cheese steak flavors were supposed to be. Also props on keeping it allergen friendly for me. I always seek and support restaurants that are willing to work with people and make us feel comfortable that we aren’t going to wind up with a reaction of any sort. I’m extremely happy that my inaugural philly cheesesteak experience was such a fantastic one that was filled with layers of traditional flavors with a Florida spin. Perusing their online menu was even more enticing to me afterwards, as their rotating specials sound equally as good as their daily staple menu items. A hand cut filet mignon slider topped with a crab cake? Yes please! Randy and Danyelle are bringing some serious sandwiches to Jacksonville and as mentioned earlier, I love that this is coming from a food truck. Keep an eye out for them around Jacksonville by following them on Facebook. Their regular locations include Hemming Park on Wednesdays, Fanatics, and Riverplace Towers. They are also in the Saturday rotation at Academy Sports on Atlantic Boulevard. Go order the Mayport SOB and the garlic parm fries and experience total food bliss!
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to taste new menu items. This meal is usually comped, as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.