It's difficult not to sympathize with business owners along the stretch of Biscayne Boulevard between NE 67th and 87th Streets. Owing to seemingly endless construction, access to shops is greatly reduced and the neighborhood looks like a war zone. Local businesses have failed under similar circumstances; common sense suggests the less well established among them would be particularly vulnerable.
David Bass, chef-owner of Ver-Daddy's, is toughing it out, though. The small shop — the name is a play on verdad, meaning truth in Spanish — offers a rich menu of tacos, burritos, and other Mexican fare. On a recent visit, the steak burrito with the works was particularly good — a mix of blackened-but-moist meat, flavorful pico de gallo, refritos, and rice. The guacamole had a lemony goodness that made the dish even better.
A make-your-own taco plate was also solid. The beans offered a rich, smoky flavor, and chunks of chicken were fresh and hot. One problem here: A server forgot the sour cream and guacamole that was supposed to accompany the meal.
And the salsa bar — de rigueur in a place like this — offered lots of cilantro, fresh lime, green sauce, and red salsa. The pico de gallo — as with the steak burrito — was the best of the mix, though. Fresh and filled with cilantro flavor, it wasn't dominated by onions or chilies.
The batter-dipped and deep-fried meat of the Baja fish taco was crisp outside; moist, flaky, and mild inside; and topped with abundant, nicely spicy, though otherwise undressed, cabbage slaw. But because the shell was the thinnest possible soft flour (not corn, as advertised) tortilla, which had the tensile strength of a wet Kleenex, it literally disintegrated upon the first bite, leaving a handful of messy, tortilla-less filling.
Rich, well-seasoned chicken tortilla soup contained lots of tender pollo, served good and hot. The "macho taco," filled and wrapped more like a burrito, showed promise, but again the kitchen missed on the seasoning — tasty but bland enough to serve to an ulcer patient.
The solitary sweet was cinnamon puffs, deep-fried flour tortillas sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and drizzled with honey and lime juice. They were as puffy as, well, tortillas; tasted primarily of fry oil and sugar; displayed the kind of gritty crunch that makes one's teeth hurt; and were messy to eat.
Service was friendly, although a note of implicit, pre-emptive apology was discernable in the voice of the young lady staffing the counter, where you order, pay for, and pick up your meal. Take lots of napkins from the counter, because there aren't any on the tables.
Ver-Daddy's is a twice-over remake of a KFC franchise, painted in shades of brown, rust, and cheap mustard yellow, perhaps to evoke the brown, rust, and cheap mustard yellow of the American Southwest. Six months after opening, the place still exhibits kinks and missteps that should have been corrected long ago. The tag line on the eatery's Website reads, "So Good, It Should Be Illegal." They got it half right.