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Oct 27, 2003 11:07 AM

Best Cuban Sandwich in NYC -- What makes it authentic?

  • t

I just got back from my first trip to Florida where I ate every cuban I could get my hands on. However, none of them were as good as my favorite at the place on 8th and 19th street in Chelsea. Granted, I was in Tampa not Miami but what makes an authentic Cuban?

The one I love here has great garlic butter melted, and has pickles, mostly the roast pork, then some quality ham and cheese.

In the tampa area the Cubans were long on ham and short on pork -- plus they dressed them with mustard and mayo -- and there was no lovely garlic flavor?

Which is right?

What do you think are the best spots for Cubans in NYC?

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  1. There was just a top 5 piece in NYMetro about Cuban sandwiches in NYC.


    6 Replies
    1. re: hilldweller

      Most of the cubanos in NY are NOT authentic (pickled jalapeƱos? salami?). I'm Cuban-American and spent many summers in Miami's Little Havana. My favorite in NY is also the 8th Ave Cuban place.

      According to the iCuban website (, a true Cuban sandwich is "A delicious combination of ham, Cuban roast pork, Swiss cheese and dill pickles served on half a loaf of fresh Cuban bread. The sandwich is heated and pressed flat in a sandwich press (plancha). This melts the cheese and crisps the crust."

      The recipe here has more information, stating that the condiments are optional:

      One note: For a true Cuban, the right BREAD is essential. Italian or French won't do. Cuban bread is much lighter.

      1. re: Ariel
        Mark DiBlasi

        hilldweller is asolutely right. A true Cuban sandwich is the height of simplicity, and depends on that airy "pan cubano" which seems to thrive in the tropical climate of Florida, and not here. Although there is a pretty good version of pan cubano that comes from New Jersey.

        A Cuban sandwich does not have mortadella, jalapenos (unknown in Cuban cuisine) or other ingredients. They might make a good sandwich, but it won't be a Cuban sandwich.

        1. re: Mark DiBlasi

          If I may offer an entry from NJ. Martino's in Somerville makes a great Cuban Sandwich.

          1. re: Marty

            YES YES!!! Martino's in Somerville has probably the best Cuban Sandwichs ever made!!! And the one in Chelsea 8th Ave. is pretty good too...! I live in Jersey and work in NYC so I get the best of both!

            1. re: Hazel

              Does anyone have an address for Martino's?

          2. re: Mark DiBlasi

            But, the type of pan cubano must be "pan de agua".

      2. g

        this seems to be a popular topic. i just posted on it in "outer boroughs." anyhow, i had a really good cuban at a place called Grand Central in Williamsburg (Grand and Manhattan).

        1 Reply
        1. re: greeneggzandham

          what's the price on the cuban? i've passed by this place but haven't felt like stopping in yet.

        2. I believe an authentic cuban sandwich also includes mortadella.

          1. a
            always hungry

            The "Best" Cuban sandwich in New York is at Mosaico, Food of the America's, on Madison Ave between 33rd & 34th streets. They went to Miami to get the press and to learn the authentic technique.The ingredients are awesome. You would be hard "pressed" to find a better Cubano...anywhere

            1 Reply
            1. re: always hungry

              The one I had there was on a focaccio like bread, kind of crumbly? I have always had them on a more french or italian type loaf, and pressed flatter and crispier. I personally didn't much like the Mosaico Cubano.

            2. s
              silvia dones de sauza

              The best and most authentic Cuban sandwich, among cubans, is the one served at the "LATIN AMERICAN" coffee shop in Miami, Fla. The second best could be the one served at "Versailles" another coffee shop/Restaurant in Miami. Quite acceptable Cuban sandwiches are served at "La Carreta" in Miami's Airport (If that is still open after 9/11 - having been back since)

              Now, with respect to the authentic receipe, It had roasted pork marinated with lots of garlic, oreganon and sour orange, salt and pepper.) Gruyere cheese and first choice sweet ham - in equal shares. Bread covers* had butter on one side and mustard on the other, no garlic included there, and no mayon either. Pickles were added according to individual choice - I love them!
              *The Cuban sandwich can be served in a long "bun" and is called "medianoche" and the traditional sandwich served in a baguette.

              Cuban sandwich is one of my favorites, and being Cuban originally, my friends love my Cuban sandwiches! - No modesty, sorry.

              (the CUBAN SANDWICH, I think, is originally from the Sloppy Joe bar, in Havana, near the harbor. Very famous place from the early 50's until the upcoming of the Revolution.)


              3 Replies
              1. re: silvia dones de sauza

                My family and I have been going to the Latin American Cafeteria since I was a little girl in the 70s. It's the perfect Cuban sandwich. There was an article singing their praises in the NY Times from Feb 2002. You can still read the story for free if you do a search.

                My uncle told me, "When you die and go to heaven, they feed you Cuban sandwiches." I think he's right. Buen provecho!

                1. re: silvia dones de sauza

                  I know we are getting off topic--the question was about cuban sandwiches in NYC, but I just have to chime in and agree about LATIN AMERICAN coffee shop. Also where I had my first "Maria Elena".

                  (also by the way, LaCaridad Dos, a food cart in the warehouses of Hialeah made a killer scrambled egg sandwich on pressed cuban bread)

                  1. re: silvia dones de sauza

                    Absolutely and totally agree! The Latin American Cafeteria has the best Cubans in Miami, if not the world.