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Finally had the potato ball at Porto's

Went on a 6.5 mile walk yesterday and decided to put back all the calories I burned by ending up at Porto's in Burbank. My friends are always raving about the potato ball, so raving friend and I got two of those, plus a Cubano sandwich each.

The potato ball is kind of the perfect food: Crispy on the outside, with warm, mashed potato surrounding a ground meat center. Yum. It's not a new combo, just done differently and well. Imagine a hand-held shepard's pie, just smaller. But the Cubano sandwich is what really got me: Crusty Cuban bread, super thin, lean slices of ham and pork, dill pickles, a hint of melted cheese and mustard. The bread is nice and toasted, but it doesn't cut the roof of your mouth when you bite into it. And each bite has the perfect amount of ham, pork, cheese, mustard and pickle. Perfection? I think so. World domination? Possibly sometime in the near future.

Unlike a lot of other places, Porto's doesn't drown their sandies in cheese - I love the stuff, but I don't want oozing mounds of cheese on a Cubano.

My only regret is that I got it "to go," and realized I then missed out on the free side of plantain chips. Dang it! I think I'll have to walk over there again next weekend.


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  1. well you already acknowledged the "to go" as the wrong part.....ohhh its sooo good when you eat it there.....

    1. LOL!! Last week someone brought Portos into work and I snagged the LAST potato ball!! It was the luckiest thing to happen to me in a long time! :) Glad you enjoyed the Cubano... I'll have to give a shot there again! :)


      1. Someone brought in meat pies from Porto's at work last week - SOO delish! I can't wait to make an excursion there myself to try to the Cubano sandwich (I've had the one at Dona Rosa's in Pasadena so can't wait to try another...)


        1. My fav sandwich at Porto's is the Midnight Sandwich (Media Noche). It's sliced ham and pork, swiss cheese, and pickles on this sweet roll that they put in a sandwich press - so it's very flat and warm when you get it... absolutely heavenly.

          Last weekend, I popped into the Glendale location, ordered my sandwich and for the first time in 10 years -- got the wrong sandwich!! While disappointed, I didn't want to wait for them to redo it and thought I'd try something different -- it was a shredded pork sandwich on toasted bread. I found the pork to be on the fatty side and I didn't finish all the bread. It didn't come close to the bliss that is the media noche.

          And, yes - the potato balls are heavenly. They make a smaller party size as well -- it's the perfect party food. Love the meat pies as well. The only thing I really don't care for are the ham croquettes.

          1. I don't love their Cuban sandwiches but the potato balls are total crack.

            1. The cubano at Dona Rosa is better than Porto on the whole, but I do like the texture of the Porto cuban roll better (crispy yet soft, melts in mouth).

              Haven't tried the potato balls - only the chorizo empanada (pass), and the beef one (OK, nothing to rave about). Their guava pastry was to die for though.

              5 Replies
              1. re: notmartha

                Try the potato balls, and also if they're warm, the chocolate croissants are pure sin in pastry's clothing.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  What about the spinach pastries? Those looked pretty good, and I've heard work people raving about those as well. Honestly, everything in glass case looked amazing, like the baked cheesecakes and all the cookies too.

                  I've tried the cubano at Dona Rosa's, but it's too packed and meaty for my taste. And the bread is too chewy.

                  1. re: Clare K

                    I do like the meat-packed variety but agree the Dona Rosa roll is a bit too chewy for a meat packed sandwich. I also don't like the taste of the pork at Portos as much.

                    Definitely have to try the potato ball and the chocolate croissant. Too bad they are a bit out of my way and not that extraordinary for it to be worth a 45 minute drive - only went there for the theatre close by for a kiddie birthday party.

                    Haven't been to Cuba, so don't know what authentic is (with/without mustard/pickles), lots of meat versus smaller amounts. I also had the cuban sandwich at Cafe Atlantic (small amount of meats) and didn't care for that version either.

                    1. re: Clare K

                      the spinach and feta pastry is tasty. It's like a round flat croissant with cheese and spinach set atop the center. Really really good, but the texture of the filling is a bit mushy.

                  2. re: notmartha

                    That's not really a fair comparison, since the mexican torta cubano is not the same as a real cubano. Think of it more as an ode to the cubano, and, really, to pork and its various incarnations. I have to say that nothing else at Dona Rosa is as perfect as that damn cuban torta.

                  3. Porto's is okay... I've never really had anything exciting there... and oh yea... the pickle & mustard completely bastardize & ruin the sandwich (imho).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Huh? The pickles and the mustard MAKE the sandwich.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        That's kind of the point of a Cuban sandwich -- it's a pressed sandwich that contains pickles and mustard.

                      2. Boy... I just looked up some recipes & you are right... it sames they are traditional that way.

                        I used to date a Cuban girl.. whose mother would make Cubanos for us all the time & she never used pickled or mustard... instead adding lots of an onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon relish... she dismissed the mustard & pickle versions as some kind of Miami abomination.

                        I have to agree... her version with a little side of fried plantain rings & guanabana juice was a lot better than the Porto's - & apparently traditional - version (which caught me offguard the first time I tasted it).

                        1. The pickles and mustard may be a Miami abomination but there are 650,000 Cuban Americans living in Miami-Dade county as of the last census. I dare you to find a Cuban sandwich in Miami that doesn't have pickles and mustard. 650,000 Cubans can't be totally wrong.
                          BTW, the papas rellenos (potato balls) are very good at Portos but they are a dime a dozen in Miami and can be found on nearly any street corner bakery, bodega or restaurant as can Cafe Cubano and guava pastries. The Portos sandwiches are just decent.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: oro3030

                            That's great, but it's 5 km to Porto's in Burbank and 4500 km to Calle Ocho. The fact that such things are commonplace in Miami doesn't mean that the place in Los Angeles is somehow less noteworthy.

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              Is La Bamba still open up on Glenoaks?

                              The Cuban sandwiches that we used to get there put Porto's to shame. Real roasted pork and ham, not deli slices.

                              1. re: jackattack

                                Never been to it. Other options for Cubanos are in WLA... don't know if they have them at Versailles... but the place at Sepulveda does... if they add pickles & mustard, I am sure I had them do them a different way.

                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                  They do and they are an ABOMINATION!!!!!


                                  1. re: Dommy

                                    "They do and they are an ABOMINATION!!!!!"

                                    Does this comment refer to Versailles or "...the place at Sepulveda..." which I interpreted as El Rincon Criollo? I haven't been to either in several years but I used to like the roast chicken and roast pork with plantains white rice/black beans and a guanabana shake at ERC!!!

                                    1. re: sel

                                      To Versailles... I still love their Lecon tho'. El Rincon Criollo's sandwich is indeed VERY tasty! :)


                              2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                The Cubanos (specifically the Media Noches) I've had in Miami all had mustard and pickle. Of course there are also Cubano sandwiches you can have with just lechon (roast pork), but I would rather eat the meat in US than in Cuba any day.

                                1. re: Ernie

                                  The first cubano sandwich I had at Key West also have tons of mustard and pickles, and lots of meat. I usually hated mustard and pickles on my sandwich/burger, but for this one it worked - helps cut down the richness of the meat.

                                2. re: oro3030

                                  They are, at least, not only a Miami deviation if deviation they are -- my fading memory of my first Cuban sandwiches in NYC fail me as to whether mustard was included, but I have a vivid memory of pickles being part of the sandwich

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    It's certainly possible, but the Cuban community in NY is not mostly people who settled in Miami first. (And it dates back for many pre-Castro, if that matters.)

                                3. I absolutely love the potato balls. It's the perfect comfort food. I introduce my picky eater boyfriend to them and he can't have enough of them.

                                  A sandwich to try is the the papa preparade sandwich. Basically two potato balls on cuban bread with tomato and lettuce.

                                  1. I had the cubano at Porto's for breakfast with a cortadito today and it was a lot better (and a lot less mustardy) than I remember, but I still like El Rincon Criollo's better.