By Gabrielle Daly
Tucked behind rows of condos and beach bungalows, a quaint, yellow two-story house with palm trees dotting its spacious front yard overlooks the ocean on 5th Avenue in Jacksonville Beach. The house almost looks like a museum with its intricate, white porch railings and awe-inspiring, solid wood staircase, but it’s much better than that. This early 1900s era house is home to the Ugly Cupcake Muffinry and Cafe. The Ugly Cupcake serves breakfast, lunch, and muffins, which they lovingly call ugly cupcakes.
At the Ugly Cupcake, you can dine inside the cozy cottage, or outside with the ocean breeze. After placing our order at the counter, my family chose to sit outside at a table on the front lawn. The food arrived quickly and it smelled divine. The Greek egg scramble with feta cheese, tomatoes, onions, and spinach looked colorful and tasted delectable. The feta melted into the eggs and I could taste the freshness of the veggies. The mouthwatering Cali Bruffin consisted of a homemade English muffin cut in half horizontally like a sandwich, filled with eggs, avocados, tomatoes, and onions. The strong flavor of the onion complimented the mild flavor of the avocado, and the egg yolk soaked into the buttery English muffin.
Shelves behind a glass covering at the ordering counter contain the freshly made muffins of the day. The shelves usually house the classics such as blueberry, chocolate chip, and banana chocolate chip. However, the menu also includes some untraditional flavors like carrot cheesecake, salted caramel mocha, and coconut pineapple. The muffins are available in gluten-free or vegan versions and all are made using natural ingredients. You can taste the care and hours of hard work that goes into making these simple yet flavorful melt-in-your-mouth muffins, and the gluten-free and vegan recipe modifications do not impact their deliciousness. For lunch, the menu includes many delicious options such as Greek chicken grilled cheese, lump blue crab salad, and mac and cheese. Many of the ingredients used to make the foods are from local companies such as Zen Butcher Company and Atlantic Beach Urban Farms. The grilled cheese consists of tender chicken served on a homemade English muffin with spinach, tomato, onion, feta, and melted mozzarella. The salad boasts a fresh blue crab over mixed greens with crisp tomatoes and onions. The baked macaroni can be topped with anything from bacon to buffalo sauce.
The Ugly Cupcake is great if you crave a hearty, healthy breakfast, or if you just want a bite to eat before heading to the beach. Walk up the grand staircase and enjoy your meal on the second-floor balcony, or bring your dog and relax on the patio as you listen to the ocean waves lazily roll onto the shore. Admire the amazing architecture and character of this old house while you chow down on a homemade muffin. Dine outside and feel the salty Atlantic breeze as you sip on a s’mores latte. The Ugly Cupcake Muffinry proves to be one of many hidden treasures on Jacksonville’s historic coast.
About the Author: Gabrielle Daly is a senior at Ponte Vedra High School. She plans to attend the University of Notre Dame in the Fall of 2019. This article was a top five entry in the Ponte Vedra Focus Blog Writing Scholarship.