The Cuban Sandwich

Have I mentioned that we LOVE Cuban food? Yet amazingly enough, neither of us had ever tried a Cuban sandwich. We decided that we should rectify that misstep while we were in Florida, not once, not twice but three times. Just to compare and make sure we tasted a good representation of course.

So what exactly is a Cuban sandwich you ask? Well, according to Wikipedia, it is:

a variation of a ham and cheese…made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and sometimes salami on Cuban bread.

None of the three that we tried included salami, and one added mayo in addition to the mustard. Some had more or less of one ingredient that the next, but all generally fit the definition above.

The Cubano, Miami-Style

Our first experience was during our short stay in Miami Beach. We spent the entire morning and early afternoon wandering from our hotel in North Beach all the way down to and through South Beach – somewhere between 10 and 12 miles round trip!

Clearly we needed a little nourishment for that kind of walking, so we decided to check out a Cuban restaurant that our friend and Edie’s former co-worker Mike had recommended – Puerto Sagua.

Since Cuban sandwiches have lots of meat, we decided splitting the sandwich would probably be a smart idea and we were definitely right! This sandwich was massive with thick bread and tons of meat. The flavor was incredible. We scarfed it down without much talking and only a few bites were passed on to Knox.

The Cubano, Key West-Style

Our second taste came during a quick lunch while wandering around Key West. One of our friendly fellow campers heard that this was our maiden voyage to the island and was quick to offer numerous food and activity suggestions.

He said that a must-try eatery was El Siboney, a little Cuban restaurant a quick half mile walk from the touristy hustle & bustle that is Duval Street. The distance from Duval definitely wasn’t hurting business – the place was packed. We ordered a Cuban sandwich and a couple of waters, then sat on the outside benches in the sun to enjoy our little meal. Again, we were not disappointed. Tasty bread, ample meat and great flavor!

The Cubano, Everglades-Style

Our last Cuban mix in Florida came as dinner on the way to our hotel after day 1 driving through the Everglades. We Googled for a Cuban restaurant and found Mario’s Latin Cafe along our route. And what a tasty random pick this turned out to be!

The sandwich was HUGE – a full 12 inches long. The bread was soft and buttery. The amount of ham and roast pork piled onto the bread was unbelievably large with the thickest and most moist roast pork we’d seen on any of the sandwiches (see the picture at the top). We gobbled it down in the truck instead of waiting the 15 minutes it would have taken to drive to the hotel.

All three of the Cuban sandwiches we tried managed to do an amazing thing with the ingredients – combine the flavors to make an amazing taste yet retain each individual flavor so that you could still pick out the pickles, the mustard, the cheese and the meat without any one flavor overpowering the other. They were all plenty big to split, too, making a nice meal for the two of us (and a number of good bites for Knox, too), all for under $10.