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
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.
Little Bread Cuban Sandwich Co.
541 SW 12th Ave.
Miami, FL 33130
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!
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.
Latin American Cafeteria & Restaurant
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!
Ball & Chain
513 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33135
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!
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…