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Cubano Sandwiches

Long before the rise of the pressed panino, there was the cubano, the greatest thing ever to happen to ham and cheese.

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Daringly Different: The creative Cubano at Chickenbone Cafe.  

1. Chickenbone Cafe
“Why must it always be Swiss?” is a question many a Cubano cook with a rebellious streak and an in at the cheesemonger’s must have asked himself. Chickenbone bucks tradition with a piquant Boerenkass that stands up to the salty prosciutto, slow-roasted organic pork, pickled jalapeños, and swipe of aïoli—all meticulously pressed between halves of a Tom Cat baguette. ($13; 177 South 4th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-302-2663.)

2. El Sitio
An old favorite and the best example of the now-rare old-school style, the aristocratic Cubano at this Woodside coffee shop and restaurant is sleek and streamlined, constructed with perfectly proportioned paper-thin slices of ham, pork, Swiss, and pickle, and a fragrant splash of mojo, the garlicky sauce that is to the Cuban sandwich what mustard is to the hot dog. ($3.80; 68-28 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside; 718-424-2369.)

3. Blue Smoke
With all that juicy barbecued pork on hand, it was only a matter of time before inspiration struck the sandwich masters here. Hence, the ’Cuebano: pit-smoked sliced pork loin, ham, Swiss, pickles, mustard, and mayo, accompanied by a pile of barbecued potato chips. A bad pun, yes, but a tasty sandwich, to be sure. ($11.50; 116 East 27th Street; 212-447-7733.)

4. Margon
This bustling lunch counter gets bonus points for its deeply flavorful roast pork, its wild-card addition of a slice of salami, and its offer of an optional squirt of hot sauce along with mojo and mayo. ($4; 136 West 46th Street; 212-354-5013.)

5. La Flor de Broadway
There is no fate worse for a Cubano than a flighty hand at the presser, which results in a sandwich with only partially melted cheese. At this Harlem take-out spot, they take their sandwich smooshing seriously, basting the bun with margarine while it cooks to ensure a smooth sheen and irresistible crunch, and making sure all the pungent flavors meld harmoniously. ($2.50; 3401 Broadway, at 138th Street; 212-926-4190.)


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