- Zach Georgopoulos
Disappointed with the cooked offerings at the Farmer's Market down on Embarkadero this morning (too commercial -- a booth from the Haye's Street Grill, and one sponsored by Aidell's Sausages), I headed over to 24th 'round about York in search of a Cuban Sandwich place that I've passed many times but have never gone in to. I can't find it anywhere! I could swear it was kitty-corner to the St. Francis Creamery (still there, by the way, for sale though; added an "Espresso Bar" for some strange reason which cuts into the candy counter). Does anyone know this Cuban Sandwich place? Is it gone for good? Just closed on weekends? Somewhere else entirely?
Since I was in the 'hood, I walked down to 24th & Florida and picked up two carnitas at the Mexi-ca-tessen that I've read about on this site (all I know is I said "dos tacos," which is about the extent of my Spanish, and then stopped the prattling woman with a gesture when she said "carnitas," the other word I know). Nowhere around to stop and eat (local park smelling too much of bird droppings, stale beer and despair), so the food cooled a bit on the motorcycle ride home. Still very good, but probably would have been better piping hot. Handmade. thick tortilla was wonderful, Meat was plentiful but not quite as seasoned as I would have expected.
Where, oh where, will I find a Cuban Sandwich now?
I don't know where the Cuban place is, but I hear you about nowhere to eat the tacos you get at Mexicatessan. I think there's still carnitas residue lodged between my steering wheel and the dashboard.
You really don't have to order the food in Spanish at La Palma. I just order it in English and they understand it perfectly (although I'm always the only one ordering in English in the whole place).
Re Cuban Sandwich: There is a place that serves Cuban sandwich as well as a full Cuban menu with weekend specials. It is on the same side as St. Francis, I don't recall the cross street or the name (might be Nuevo Fruitlandia?), but you can't miss it if you walk a little in the area.I have not tried it but I'll take the next opportunity. They have several kinds.
On La Palma, I may have said this here before, but I really like to use La Palma as a market and prepared food place, rather than getting the take-out items. I do sometimes order flautas or something and eat it on the bench outside the park (adults are not allowed without children) and smile at the flower vendors and others. Yes there are some homeless people, but also neighborhood folk, and I think it is over the top to talk of despair in general.
La Palma is great to purchase prepared food to serve a crowd if you don't have time to cook. I like to get a kilo of carnitas, thick tortillas, thin tortillas (both made in front of you all day), a quart of the teriffic refritos, some rice, one or two small container of the fresh salsa assortment, some guacamole (I like to make my own, but theirs is pretty good). Then from the dairy case you can get some Mexican cheese, melting kind for the beans, crumbling kind for the tacos, some limes and cilantro, which are a must for carnitas. You can reheat and set out a great spread and let everyone build their own.as
Carnitas are fairly plain and don't have much if any seasoning. Al Pastor is seasoned, but I don't think La Palma has it. Also I use English at La Palma, just a few words work. They were able to help me pick a slightly hot chile powder.
Don't ignore the great prices on the pantry items. I recently did some steaks on the grill using the pasilla chile powder, cumin, paprika, lemon, green chiles, and garlic and jalapenos, made into a paste and rubbed on the meat for a couple of hours. Great sliced into La Palma tortillas, and the ingredients were cheap and a pack of pink beans for 50 cents were great on the side.
re: Anne H
"Re Cuban Sandwich: There is a place that serves Cuban sandwich as well as a full Cuban menu with weekend specials. It is on the same side as St. Francis"
Thanks -- I'll give that a shot. The place I'd spotted before was on the other side of the street, but I guess is either gone or was closed while I was there this weekend (didn't occur to me to look across the street -- I guess I need to hone my skills!).
Here's a short write-up on El Nuevo Fruitlandia from the Press Democrat. Check out the whole article--great 'hounding tips!
"El Nuevo Fruitlandia on 24th near Folsom Street is a popular restaurant, with a Salvadoran owner who cooks Cuban and Puerto Rican specialties for lunch and dinner. (Owner Ines Blanco said she worked at Fruitlandia for eight years before buying it five years ago, and kept it Cuban and Puerto Rican since there are so many Salvadoran restaurants in the neighborhood.)
There are daily specials, like a Cubano sandwich, roasted pork, ham and Swiss cheese with mayo on a roll, fabulous fresh fruit shakes, vegetarian plates, seafood, lovely sides like yucca root in garlic sauce and a traditional fried crushed plantain served with olive oil."
El Nuevo Fruitlandia, 3077 24th St (at Folsom). 415-648-2958.