Best Cuban Sandwiches in Miami

If you are from Miami or a few of the other Cuban neighborhoods throughout the country, then you are most definitely familiar with the very famous “Cuban Sandwich”. Being Cuban-American, having grown up in a very Cuban area of NJ, and living in Miami for over 25 years, I have definitely had a “few” Cuban sandwiches in my life.  But as with most things, not all Cuban sandwiches are created equal.  Here in Miami, you can find Cuban sandwiches almost everywhere, but beware, there are big differences between the pre-made bargain sandwiches found at many lunch counters and coffee windows, and the delicious fresh made to order ones found at restaurants and cafes.

You will also come across places which like to experiment and add mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, pastrami, sauerkraut, salami, and even Thousand Island dressing, or their own version of a secret sauce. While some of these concoctions are really tasty with a twist on the original version, the classic Cuban typically consists of a toasted buttered Cuban roll, with fresh sliced pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles (some folks include mustard too).  So for those of you that may be clueless as to where to find the best Cuban sandwiches when you visit Miami, here is a quick list of some of my favorites:

Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop
186 NE 29th St.
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 573-4681

You know this has to be a good pick when it’s the #1 place chosen by Zagat in Miami for Cuban sandwiches.  This little hole-in-the-wall, located in the Wynwood area, is a local favorite.  And if you’re looking for something really special, try the Cubano Preparado Con Croquetas, basically a version of their Cuban, stuffed with their yummy ham croquetas.

Cuban Sandwich at Enriqueta's

Cuban Sandwich at Enriqueta’s

Little Bread Cuban Sandwich Co.
541 SW 12th  Ave.
Miami, FL 33130
(786) 420-2672

This is probably my current favorite.  Owned by Alberto Cabrera, (whom I have blogged about before, with his amazingly delicious restaurant, Bread & Butter), at Little Bread, fresh-baked baguettes with a good crust get transformed into a Cubano with pork belly rillette, ham, salami, house pickles and red wine mustard. The restaurant’s culinary director, Richard Torres, explains that the secret is in the homemade bread that the restaurant uses and “not pressing the sandwich twice” like many places do.  The result, in my opinion, delicious!

The Cuban at Little Bread

The Cuban at Little Bread

Islas Canarias
Various Locations
(305) 649-0440

You know you’ve made it when Anthony Bourdain instagrams your sandwich (in this case another version of the Cuban, called Media Noche) with the hashtag #miami. The secret to their sandwiches is simple….they bake their bread fresh every day in their bakery.

Cuban sandwich at Islas Canarias

Cuban sandwich at Islas Canarias

Latin American Cafeteria & Restaurant
Various Locations
(305) 267-9995

Luis Galindo’s Latin American Cafeteria & Restaurant, named for the brother of Cuban sandwich patron Raúl Galindo, is owned by Elias G. Elias, a Lebanese-Syrian man raised in Cuba. It makes one of the city’s best Cubanos. The perfect press crisps the bread’s crust, slightly warms the interior, and compresses the whole thing without flattening it into a cracker. This place has been around forever, I remember eating Cuban sandwiches here, when I used to vacation in Miami as a young girl, before I even lived in Miami!

Cuban sandwiches at Latin American

Cuban sandwiches at Latin American

Ball & Chain
513 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33135
(305) 643-7820

So, I have not actually eaten here…yet!  But a few friends have highly recommended this restaurant, and because their version of the Cuban is so original, I just had to include it on my list.  Ball & Chain serves Cuban Spring Rolls…a twist on the obvious sandwich.  They claim that being located on famous Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street), where there are numerous restaurants serving the traditional Cuban sandwich, they were needed to come up with something that would make their sandwich stand out among the rest.  The result…roasted pork, ham, and pickles wrapped in a spring roll with Swiss cheese, served alongside faintly spiced mustard aioli, perfect for dipping. I must try this one soon!

Cuban Sandwich Spring Roll at Ball & Chain

Cuban Sandwich Spring Roll at Ball & Chain

Well, as you can see there’s a Cuban for all tastes!  Have you ever tried a Cuban sandwich?  If you have, which one has been your favorite? I’d love to hear…

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Louie Bossi’s Ristorante & Pizzeria

With so many dining options in South Florida, sometimes it’s hard to choose a place for dinner.  Over the 4th of July weekend, we decided to spend the evening on Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.  We hadn’t been in a while and I wanted to see what new shops and eateries had opened up since our last visit, and then head over to the beach to watch the fireworks. I was surprised to still see some our favorite restaurants and delighted to discover some new ones.  Our daughter was craving her usual Italian food, so when we stumbled upon Louie Bossi’s, we decided to give it a try. I had not heard of it (they only opened up about a month ago), so I was a bit hesitant, after all, Italian places are always popping up everywhere, but many of them are mediocre at best.  Well this place is anything but mediocre.

Louie Bossi's Ristorante & Pizzeria Photo courtesy of Urbandaddy.com

Louie Bossi’s Ristorante & Pizzeria
Photo courtesy of Urbandaddy.com

We started off with a delicious appetizer called Coccoli Fritto, which were basically these delightfully soft baked flaky pita breads topped with fresh parmesan shavings and served with freshly made ricotta cheese, olive oil and prosciutto.  Heavenly!!  Hubby also ordered a small side of Marcona Almonds roasted with sea salt.

Coccoli Fritto

Coccoli Fritto

Marcona Almonds roasted with sea salt

Marcona Almonds roasted with sea salt

On to the main courses….I really wanted to try one of the pastas, but keeping faithful to my healthy eating habits of late, I decided on one of the daily specials..a grilled branzino prepared with olive oil, lemon and capers and I ordered a side of their grilled veggies.  This was one of the best fish dishes I have ever tasted.

Grilled branzino and veggies

Grilled branzino and veggies

Hubby decided on another one of the specials, lobster served with pasta.  Also delish!  And of course our daughter being her adventurous self (not), ordered a margherita pizza, but she says it’s also one of the best she’s had.  And trust me, she’s beyond picky.

Margharita Pizza

Lobster with Pasta

IMG_2780

Margherita Pizza

Next, my daughter decided on a small dessert, Budino Cioccolata, a dense yet light tasting hazelnut pudding, topped with a light whipped cream and a bit of caramel and sea salt.  I couldn’t help myself and had a tiny taste….wouldn’t you:

Budino Cioccolata...heavenly!

Budino Cioccolata…heavenly!

And last but not least, hubby ordered his espresso and I had a creamy limoncello.  All I can say is that it tasted better than some of the limoncellos I’ve had in Italy!

Espresso & Creamy Limoncello

Espresso & Creamy Limoncello

So, if you’re in the Ft. Lauderdale area, head on over to beautiful Las Olas Boulevard and make sure you stop into Louise Bossi’s and experience an amazing Italian feast.  You will not regret it.

Photo courtesy of browardpalmbeach.com

Photo courtesy of browardpalmbeach.com

Louie Bossi’s
1032 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale
(954) 356-6699
http://www.louiebossi.com

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Brunch at Eating House

Miami is full of incredible restaurants and my husband and I have tried many of them, but I have never experienced a brunch like the one we recently had at Eating House in Coral Gables. We finally made a reservation because the few times we tried to just show up and have brunch the line was halfway down the block (and it doesn’t help that the place is quite small).  Eating House (which started as a pop up restaurant, sharing the same space as a coffee shop) has become extremely popular with the locals, thanks to the incredible concoctions of Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli. Honestly, I was hooked when I heard of their famous Cap’n Crunch Pancakes with condensed milk syrup (yes folks, condensed milk) and their Cuban bread torrejas with guava and cream cheese!  Now mind you, I am much more of an eggs and bacon kind of gal for breakfast, as opposed to sweets, but I was very intrigued to try these dishes.  And of course, it didn’t take much convincing when hubby heard Cap’n Crunch and condensed milk in the same sentence!  Take a look at this:

Cap’n Crunch Pancakes, smothered in condensed milk syrup

Cap’n Crunch Pancakes, smothered in condensed milk syrup

Cap’n Crunch Pancakes, is a stack of pancakes topped with condensed milk ‘syrup’, candied cap’n crunch, and whipped vanilla butter. As I was expecting, my husband loved this dish!  Cuban Bread Torrejas, are a Cuban-inspired version of French toast made with Cuban bread, a guava/iron beer syrup and melted cream cheese, topped with Maria cookie streusel.  For the first time in my life, I actually found a dish too sweet, and could only take a few bites…but oh my, were they delicious.  Both of these dishes were huge, definitely large enough for 2-3 people to share, and then some…

Cuban Bread Torrejas...a slice of heaven

Cuban Bread Torrejas…slices of heaven

To round things out, my daughter ordered some BK hash browns served with housemade roasted ketchup and candied applewood smoked bacon cooked with brown sugar.  Both were delicious too!

‘BK hashbrowns and candied applewood smoked bacon with  brown sugar

BK hash browns and candied applewood smoked bacon with brown sugar

They serve many other items on their brunch menu, and of course make sure to check out their lunch and dinner menus as well.  So if you’re in the Miami area and you’re looking for a truly delectable dining experience, I recommend you give Eating House a try. I’m ready to go back for dinner soon.  Have you eaten at this wonderful place?  If so, I’d love to hear what you liked best!

Eating House Miami

Eating House Miami

Eating House
804 Ponce De Leon Blvd
Coral Gables
(305)  448-6524

http://www.eatinghousemiami.com/

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Buttercream…Takes the Cake

The cupcake craze in the past few years has exploded, and in my family we have a bit of OCD (Obsessive Cupcake Disorder). It doesn’t help that almost everywhere you look, there’s a new cupcake shop opening up.  Here in Miami, we have quite a few, but to me there is nothing as delicious as the cupcakes found at Buttercream Cupcakes & Coffee. I’ve mentioned them before in some of my other blog posts, but today I am dedicating an entire post just to them. The tiny shop, owned by wife and husband team Kristine Graulich and Jose Cuellar, situated on the residential side of Sunset Drive, is small but cozy. There’s a little table inside if you’d like to escape the heat and humidity, and also a few tables set up outside.  We love the aroma of warm cupcakes, the moment you open the front door.  And then it hits you…which one should I choose?

So hard to choose...

Such a variety to choose from…

Be warned, you will not find any crazy, exotic flavors or fillings in these cupcakes.  If that’s what you’re looking for, then this is not the place for you.  Here the cake is basically always chocolate or vanilla, topped with various flavors of buttercream frosting, such as guava, pistachio (hubby’s favorite), vanilla (my original favorite), strawberry (my current favorite), red velvet or chocolate.  The Oreo, featuring giant chunks of Oreo cookies in the frosting, is by far my daughter’s favorite.  But these cupcakes don’t need any frills, they are perfect the way they are. Buttercream cupcakes are store-baked each day using the finest dairy, flour and sugar ingredients which is why they are so moist. They also offer additional flavors on a rotating schedule, such as orange and lime, to keep things interesting. Here are all of our favorite flavors:

My favorite flavors!

Favorite flavors!

But if you can’t decide, they offer a sampler box of mini cupcakes comprised of their most popular flavors.

Mini cupcakes...Photo courtesy of Buttercream Cupackes

Mini cupcakes…Photo courtesy of Buttercream Cupcakes

They also make cakes for special occasions, which are just as delicious as their cupcakes.  Take a look at the beautiful cake they made for my friend’s baby shower:

Beautiful baby shower cake...

Beautiful baby shower cake…

So the next time you find yourself in Coral Gables, make sure you stop in and try one of these heavenly cupcakes, you won’t regret it!

 Buttercream Cupcakes & Coffee
1411 Sunset Drive
Coral Gables
(305) 669-8181

http://www.buttercreamcupcakes.com

Have you tried Buttercream cupcakes?  If you have, I’d love to hear which one is your favorite?

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Cadbury Creme Egg Desserts

It seems everywhere you look, Easter candy is all over (and in my book, Easter candy is even better than Halloween candy). So naturally, it’s time for some yummy Easter treats. And if there’s one Easter chocolate delight that I have always loved, it’s the Cadbury creme egg (who doesn’t love these?) I remember looking forward to these creme eggs at Easter time, ever since I was little. I recently came across 10 amazing dessert recipes made with these delicious eggs, and I just had to share them with you all (even if you don’t celebrate Easter, these are delicious anytime). I have not had the chance to make any of these yet, but I’m sure going to try some of them out soon…here they are:

Cadbury Creme Egg Cheesecake, photo courtesy of tamingtwins.com

Cadbury creme egg cheesecake, photo courtesy of tamingtwins.com

Wow your friends and family with this stunning Cadbury creme egg cheesecake. If you can’t find mini creme eggs to use inside the cake, you can just replace them with large creme eggs. Click here.

Creme egg donuts, photo courtesy of cutsqash.com.

Cadbury creme egg donuts, photo courtesy of cutsqash.com.

Full size or mini creme eggs, wrapped in a yeasted donut dough, deep-fried and rolled in sugar, heavenly for any donut fan. Click here.

Creme egg milkshake, photo courtesy of  Chocolatemoosey.com

Cadbury creme egg milkshake, photo courtesy of Chocolatemoosey.com

Your favorite Cadbury creme egg in milkshake form! Chocolate ice cream and homemade fondant cream blended together for a sinful Easter treat. Click here.

Creme egg cupcakes, photo courtesy of cupcakestakethecake.com.

Cadbury creme egg cupcakes, photo courtesy of cupcakestakethecake.com.

These Cadbury creme egg cupcakes are intensely chocolatey Devil’s Food cake with lightly flavored vanilla Cadbury’s creme egg buttercream, delicious!  Click here.

Creme Egg Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies, photo curtesy of chocolatemoosey.com.

Cadbury creme egg stuffed chocolate chip cookies, photo courtesy of chocolatemoosey.com.

Classic chocolate chip cookies stuffed with mini creme eggs makes an easy treat for Easter. Click here.

Cadbury creme egg cookie cups, photo courtesy of inkatrinaskitchen.com.

Cadbury creme egg cookie cups, photo courtesy of inkatrinaskitchen.com.

Homemade Cadbury cream filling stuffed into chewy chocolate chip cookie cups.  Click here.

Cadbury creme egg ice-creeam, photo courtesy of  culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com.

Cadbury creme egg ice-cream, photo courtesy of culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com.

Delicious, smooth and creamy, chocolate creme egg ice-cream!  This might be my favorite of them all. Click here.

Creme egg chocolate caramel shortbread, photo courtesy of kerrycooks.com.

Cadbury creme egg chocolate caramel shortbread, photo courtesy of kerrycooks.com.

With a scrumptious shortbread layer on the base, paired with gorgeous homemade caramel, and topped with a thick layer of milk and plain chocolate, these are a must!  Click here.

Cadbury creme egg dip, photo courtesy of  bitzngiggles.com.

Cadbury creme egg dip, photo courtesy of bitzngiggles.com.

Melt some eggs, chop up the others, and you end up with a sweet, creamy dip swimming with Cadbury egg bits and pieces and swirled with the white and yellow fondant filling, great for fruit dipping too! Click here.

Cadbury creme egg tarts, photo courtesy of  outoftheordinaryfood.com.

Cadbury creme egg tarts, photo courtesy of outoftheordinaryfood.com.

Little tarts, with a paté sucrée crust (kind of shortbread-y) a blackcurrant-almond filling, and one mini-egg hidden in each one. Click here.

So, have you ever made any desserts with these yummy Cadbury creme eggs?  If you have, I’d love to have the recipe!

My Favorite Greek Dishes

You never hear much about Greek food.  It’s not as popular as Italian (my favorite), Chinese or Mexican, but I sure do love it.  While traveling through Greece, I have definitely fallen in love with some favorite dishes and also watched my husband eat some questionable ones (octopus).  And while we have a few Greek restaurants here in Miami, I haven’t found any to be as authentic as the food in Greece.  Here are my top 10 favorite Greek dishes:

Galaktoboureko This has to be my favorite Greek dessert (yes, let’s start with the desserts, why not), and it’s actually not very easy to find.  Everytime I’m in Greece I specifically browse the menus of most recommended places, and I have only come across this heavenly treat in a small cafe in Oia.  Galaktoboureko, is a divine combination of creamy custard and flaky phyllo dough that is baked to golden perfection then drenched with a lemon and orange infused syrup.  I used to work with a Greek friend who told me her mother makes it from scratch.  I never tried making this, as to me the recipe seems a bit above my experience level…LOL.   But if you are brave enough to try, make sure to eat it the same day, as the custard tends to harden once it’s refrigerated.

greek-custard-pie-3-550

Galaktoboureko

Loukoumades Continuing with desserts, my husband loves these little bite-sized sweet honey puffs, essentially the Greek version of donut holes, which are deep fried to golden and crispy perfection. Loukoumades are traditionally served soaked in hot honey syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon and garnished with chopped walnuts or toasted sesame seeds.  I’ve also seen them accompanied with a scoop of ice cream.  Either way, delicious!

Loukoumades

Loukoumades

Halvas Yet another dessert (I promise I will get to the food soon). A semonlina, almond, cinnamon based dessert, which I ended up liking more than what I had anticipated.  There are two different sweets called halvas in Greece. One is wet pudding made of semolina powder, olive oil and sugar.  The other type is very similar to a nougat made of sugar and sesame powder, similar to Spanish turron.  I was also served halvas ice cream one night…amazing!

Halvas

Halvas

Fried Feta with Honey and Sesame Seeds Many of you that know me know of my love affair with cheese, ANY type of cheese!  But I really love feta cheese and usually have loads of it when I’m in Greece.  However, this fried feta covered in sesame seeds and honey is on another level.  The sweet and salty combination of flavors is absolutely delicious!

Fried feta with honey and sesame seeds

Fried feta with honey and sesame seeds

Tzatziki This yummy Greek sauce is always served with grilled meats or as a dip. Tzatziki is made of strained yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, and dill, mint, or parsley… always served cold.

Tzatzik

Tzatziki

Dolmadakia Typically served as an appetizer or side dish, dolmadakia is a favorite dish throughout Greece. Grape leaves, stuffed with long-grain rice and herbs like thyme, dill, and fennel.  My husband loves these, definitely something to try!

Dolmadakia

Dolmadakia

Greek Salad Famous all over the world, but the Greeks make them best! Crunchy cucumber, juicy ripe tomato, olives, red onion and a giant slab of feta on top, covered with olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. It’s an absolute staple with every meal.

Greek Salad

Greek Salad

Gyros Yes, these are the ones typically found in your local state fair or neighborhood festivals, but boy are they yummy!  Pita bread, grilled meat, fresh salad, sauce (usually tzatziki), and many times they also include french fries inside.  Depending on the restaurant, they may also be served as a platter with the pita bread on the side.  Either way, I love them.

Gyros served with fries

Gyros served with fries

Spanakopita These are Greek pastries, filled with spinach and feta cheese folded in layers of phyllo dough. Most of the time, you will see them folded into triangles, but it can also be made as a pie or in a pita. Cheese pies of all types are very popular all over Greece.  I usually eat these as an appetizer or a snack, but they can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Spanakopita

Spanakopita

Pastitsio Also referred to as Greek Lasagna, Pastitsio, is made of luscious layers of juicy minced beef, cooked in a tomato based sauce, with pasta and creamy béchamel sauce, all baked together until golden perfection.. simply irresistible!  This is one of my favorite dishes in Greece, I always make sure to have it at least once on every trip.

Pastitsio

Pastitsio

Have you tried Greek food, and if you have what are your favorite dishes?  I’m curious…

My Signature

Threefold Cafe

Breakfast all day long? This is what you’ll encounter at Coral Gables’ newest all-day breakfast place, Threefold Café. Opened this past summer by two Melbourne transplants, Teresa and Nick Sharp, Threefold offers diners a taste of their native Australian dishes all with a Floridian twist. And let me just say, if you are not big on breakfast, this place will likely change your mind!

Threefold Cafe

Threefold Cafe

Cute yellow teapots

Cute yellow teapots…

The menu features Australian-inspired dishes, my favorite being their “Smashed Avo”, butter & thyme roasted mushrooms with feta, lime, basil all served on Zak’s bread, topped with a perfectly soft poached egg for an extra $2. I had never tasted anything like this, but I can assure you it was delicious!  Both my husband and daughter, being waffle lovers, ordered the “Big Kid Waffles”, vanilla waffles dusted with powdered sugar, served with fresh strawberries and organic maple syrup.  We also ordered a side of Mornin’ Monkey, a banana and walnut bread served with espresso butter and maple syrup on the side.  Next time (oh yes, I think there will have to be a next time soon) I want to try the “Not So French Toast,” egg-soaked bread filled with prosciutto, basil, and ricotta, sounds heavenly! Oh and did I mention the portions are very generous.

Smashed Avo

Smashed Avo topped with a soft poached egg…

Waffles with strawberries and powdered sugar...

Waffles with strawberries and powdered sugar…

Mornin' Monkey... banana and walnut bread served with espresso butter and maple syrup...

Mornin’ Monkey… banana and walnut bread served with espresso butter and maple syrup…

Not So French Toast...

Not So French Toast…

Hot chocolate with mini marshmellows...

Hot chocolate with mini marshmallows…

And if you have little ones, this is the only place in the Gables that I have seen with a children’s nook, full of Ikea stools and toys, doesn’t get much better than that.  They also offer kid-friendly menu options such as vanilla waffles and buttermilk pancakes with butterscotch sauce and vanilla-bean ice cream, served in colorful plastic dishes. Oh and they offer “babyccinos” for $1 for the kids (frothed milk with marshmallows)…can you say cute? They want to make sure they are pleasing everyone in the family.

Children's play area...

Children’s play area…

Once you’re done with your meal, make sure you order the Tim Tam cookies, directly from Australia.  They are crunchy, malty and chocolaty, very similar in taste to a Twix bar…absolutely delicious!  My daughter loved them so much, they gave her a few extra ones!

Yummy Tim Tams

Yummy Tim Tams

Open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Threefold also has special lunch offerings, including sandwiches, soups, and salads.  If you’re in the Miami area, make sure to eat at this wonderful new spot.

Threefold Café
141 Giralda Avenue
Coral Gables
(305) 704-8007
www.threefoldcafe.com

Have you been to Threefold Cafe, if you have I’d love to hear what you thought of it.