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…

My Signature

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Chillin at Chill-N…

As the summer sadly comes to an end (well it’s always summer in Miami), we made our last official summer ice-cream run last night to our new favorite ice-cream shop.  It’s so cool, it’s chillin (the name of the place)!  Not only is Chill-N Nitrogen Ice-Cream absolutely delicious, but the way it is made is what really makes your mouth drop. They make their ice-cream with Nitrogen, yes folks, Nitrogen!  The shop is quite small, but in my opinion, small places are typically the best!  No matter when we’ve visited this place (usually on the weekends), the line is outside the door.

How they make  ice-cream!

How they make ice-cream!

When you first walk in, you will find a cool Periodic Table inspired board of all delicious bases, flavors, and toppings, or as they call them, their mix-N’s…brownie bits, mint, marshmallows, Nutella, cookie bites, white chocolate chips, & much more.  You first choose your size of dessert, then whether you’d like ice-cream or yogurt.  Next, you choose from over 10 base flavors, and lastly, you get to choose all of your add-ins.

Flavors and topping!

Flavors and toppings!

Then the magic begins… While regular ice cream is frozen over night or frozen instantly through commercial freezers, nitrogen flash-freezes the liquid base as it is churned. The nitrogen makes the ice cream really cold, and since it’s all prepared as you watch, you can see the nitrogen fog pour out of the mixers.  It’s all really cool, and even the adults in line are watching the process in amazement!

Ice Cream in the making!

Ice Cream in the making!

The only drawback is that since the ice-creams are made fresh on the spot, you can’t try the different flavors.  But no worries, I’m sure any combination you come up with will be heavenly!  The first time I visited I got the cake batter ice-cream mixed in with the Oreos and cookie dough (now my daughter’s favorite).  Another favorite of mine is strawberry ice-cream mixed in with white chocolate chips. Absolutely delicious, I’ve never tasted creamier ice-cream!

If you’re in Miami and you want a place to chill…go to Chill-N, you must stop by one of their locations:

Pinecrest:  8271 SW 124th Street, Miami, FL 33156

Aventura: 17831 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura, FL 33160

http://www.chillnicecream.com

Swooning Over Swine

Miami is a great place to try new restaurants, it seems like there’s a new one opening up almost every day, whether in Coral Gables, Midtown or in Miami Beach. Recently, Gastro pubs have taken over in Miami, sometimes making you feel as if you’re dining in NYC or Chicago, instead of South Florida.  Swine Southern Table & Bar, is the latest addition to the 50 Eggs, Inc. family, which consists of Khong River House and Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (both of which I still have to try).  Swine describes itself as ”A house of worship to the porcine pursuits”.

Swine Southern Table & Bar Interior  Photo Courtesy of MiamiEater.com

My husband first tried this place with some co-workers, and he liked it so much, he suggested we go for a family brunch. At first sight, the place looks very small and cozy, but then you take a look around, and realize there’s a loft-style dining space up on the second floor, which almost doubles the restaurant space.  A relaxed ambiance with dim lighting and creative decor make this restaurant everything that a Gastro pub should be.  Also worth a mention, some of the friendliest waiters I have ever encountered in Miami!

The menu resembles one of a typical BBQ joint, with items such as pulled pork and brisket. Everything is smoked in-house for around 12 hours, leaving the area with an intoxicating smell of wood, meat, sweetness, and bourbon. In addition to the creative cocktail menu, there’s also an extensive bourbon collection featuring rare, limited editions and house infusions, as well as various beers and wines to choose from.

Jalapeño, Cheddar & Bacon Homemade Cornbread

Jalapeño, Cheddar & Bacon Homemade Cornbread

The first time we ate at Swine, we ordered a muffin basket, with cherry scones, cornbread and banana muffins. Since we’ve been back they no longer offer it, but you can still order the items separately. Remembering how yummy these treats were, we of course ordered the  Jalapeño, Cheddar & Bacon Homemade Cornbread, and the Granola Crusted, Cream Cheese Stuffed Warm Banana Muffin, both served with homemade berry jam and maple butter. Delicious!

Granola Crusted, Cream Cheese Stuffed Warm Banana Muffin

Granola Crusted, Cream Cheese Stuffed Warm Banana Muffin

Next we had the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with green apple and bacon vinaigrette, one of hubby’s favorite dishes there! And he also ordered a side of the BBQ spiced French Fries, served with spicy ketchup and crumbled bacon.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with green apples and bacon vinaigrette

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with green apples and bacon vinaigrette

BBQ spiced French Fries

BBQ spiced French Fries

To top this all off, we all shared the Warm Sticky Icky Bun, with maple-bourbon toffee syrup, pecan cream cheese, candied smoked bacon, and sweet potato “pie” ice cream.  As you can imagine, we were stuffed and really couldn’t finish all of this food, it was very filling, but also very delicious!

Warm Sticky Icky Bun, with maple-bourbon toffee syrup, pecan cream cheese, candied smoked bacon, and sweet potato “pie” ice cream.

Warm Sticky Icky Bun, with maple-bourbon toffee syrup, pecan cream cheese, candied smoked bacon, and sweet potato “pie” ice cream.

If you’re in Miami, or visiting soon, make sure you stop in the place that proclaims “the only part of a hog you can’t use is his squeal”, you won’t be disappointed!

Swine Southern Table & Bar
2415 Ponce De Leon Blvd
Coral Gables
http://www.runpigrun.com

What Is A Montadito?

What is a “Montadito” you might ask?  Well, In Spanish, montar means “to mount,” so montaditos are tapas-style tiny baguettes that are piled high with meats, cheeses, chocolates…essentially delightful bite-sized finger food.

Various "montaditos"

Various “montaditos”

That is the concept behind 100 Montaditos (you can choose from 100 mini sandwiches, hence the name).  They also serve appetizers, tapas, salads, various types of beer, and of course sangria.

100 Montaditos has become a very popular restaurant chain, which first opened its doors in 2000 in the south of Spain, and has now become the largest Spanish-owned franchise in the world.  The ambiance is very typical of a tapas bar in Spain, where once folks finish their meals, they like to hang around drinking and having fun.

Ham croqueta appetizer

Ham croqueta appetizer

In 2011, the first US restaurant and Americas headquarters was opened in, where else, Miami.  My family and I love to frequent this place because there is such variety, and you can’t beat the prices. The mini sandwiches range in price between $1.00 – $2.50, but on Wednesdays, all sandwiches cost $1.00! Another great feature of these restaurants is their locations.  In the Miami area, you can find one in South Miami, Miracle Mile, Lincoln Road, Brickell Avenue, Midtown, Kendall, Pinecrest…just about anywhere. My favorite montaditos are the Serrrano ham, Manchego cheese, tortilla Española with ali oli, and my husband loves the BBQ pulled pork.

My favorite Guava & Cream Cheese Montadito!

My favorite Montadito!

On our last visit there, they had changed up the menu a bit, and I was surprised that they no longer serve the very popular cream cheese and guava montadito, (not sure why it’s off the menu, it was delicious). But if you’re looking for a sweet ending to your meal, make sure you try one of their delicious chocolate montaditos, especially the Cookies and Cream one! Have you been to 100 Montaditos?  If you have, which is your favorite?

Montaditoscollage

 

¡Azúcar!

An authentic, homemade Cuban ice-cream shop, named after the trademark shout of the beloved Cuban salsa singer Celia Cruz, located in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, featuring over 40 Latin infused ice cream flavors…how could we not stop in?  Of course I’m talking about Azúcar, which in a relatively short amount of time, has become a staple of this historical Calle Ocho community. Although the shop is small, there are a few benches (covered with guayabera shirts) where you can sit down and enjoy your tasty treats.

Beautiful painting of Celia Cruz hanging inside of the shop

Beautiful painting of Celia Cruz hanging inside of the shop

Outside of  Azúcar

Outside of Azúcar

All of the extravagant flavors scream sabor latino, such as, Cuatro Leches (4 milks cake), Guayaba, Platano Maduro (Sweet Plantain), Mulatica (Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookie), Besitos (Vanilla & Pink Meringues), and Mamacita (Orange Blossom-Almond). However, Azucar’s signature flavor Abuela Maria, which consists of homemade vanilla ice-cream, infused with sweet chunks of guava, tangy cream cheese and crumbly bits of Maria cookies, was by far my favorite!

Their signature Abuela María flavor

Their signature Abuela María flavor Photo Courtesy of Azúcar Ice Cream Company

I recently discovered that this flavor has become so popular, that it’s also being offered in some Cuban restaurants throughout the city. Now I should warn you that although there is a huge list of flavors written on the chalkboard wall, only a portion are usually on offer. (I was looking forward to tasting the Balsamic-Strawberry and Platano Maduro, but they were not available that day).  But that’s not a problem, as I’m sure we will be back.  Even my daughter, who I have to sometimes bribe to try Cuban cuisine of any kind, really enjoyed her Domino (Oreo Cookies ‘n’ Cream) ice cream.

Visit Azúcar on your next visit to Miami, try one of their delicious concoctions, and let me know which flavor was your favorite!

Azúcar Ice Cream Company
 1503 SW 8th Street
Miami, Florida 33135
(305) 381-0369
www.AzucarIceCream.com

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Bulla Gastrobar

I’ve been craving tasty tapas since I returned from Barcelona last summer.  I’m always on the lookout for a good tapas place, and on a recent Sunday lunch date with my husband, I finally found one…Bulla Gastrobar in Coral Gables. Bulla (pronounced boo-ya, not bull-ah) is defined as the ability to create a stir; what everyone’s talking about.  And trust me, everyone is certainly talking about this eatery featuring delicious, delicately prepared Spanish and Catalan dishes, in an ambiance that will make you feel as if you’re sitting in one of the many tapas bars on Passeig de Gracia in lively Barcelona.

Photo Courtesy of Bulla Gastrobar

The restaurant is located at 2500 Ponce De Leon, the same spot as the owner’s previous and slightly more upscale restaurant, Por Fin (which I never had the pleasure of trying), but Bulla symbolizes a fun and casual tapas bar.  A great place for a light dinner or a quick happy hour with friends.  The restaurant also features an upstairs dining room for private events and group gatherings.

There are so many dishes to choose from, it took us a while to decide on a few to share for lunch.  A house favorite is the Huevos “Bulla”, their version of the Spanish favorite usually referred to as Huevos Estrellados in Spain (a favorite dish of mine in Barcelona).  Huevos Bulla are prepared with organic eggs, homemade potato chips, Serrano ham, potato foam and truffle oil (sounds heavenly). Another house specialty is the Sangria de Cerveza, which is prepared with Ommegang Witte, triple sec, lemon juice, and pear purée. We decided on the very traditional Pan con Tomate, and paired it up with an order of Jamon Serrano.  We also had some tiny yummy Croquetas de Jamon, Tortilla Española and Buñuelos de Bacalao (codfish fritters with homemade tartar sauce).

Pan con Tomate &  Jamon Serrano

Pan con Tomate & Jamon Serrano

Buñuelos de Bacalao

Tortilla Española

Croquetas de Jamon

Everything was delicious, and very filling, so unfortunately, we didn’t leave any room for dessert. Next time we will have to try a few more dishes and possibly the Cremoso de Chocolate, their three layer chocolate genoise, vanilla ice cream, olive oil, and Maldon salt concoction, which sounds blissful…What are some of your favorite tapa dishes, I’d love to hear?

Bulla Gastrobar
2500 Ponce de Leon Boulevard
Coral Gables
http://www.bullamiami.com