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Mini Cubano tasting

Cuban sandwich: also known as the "cubano," it's a popular meal in South Florida, where many Cubans have settled. The standard Cuban sandwich consists of ham and roast pork marinated in mojo sauce (garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and orange juice), mayonnaise (not included in the original), mustard, dill pickles, and Swiss cheese on Cuban bread, which is a light French bread.

In an attempt to find this sandwich I hit three restaurants in a slow work week.

1.Cubano. California at Laurel Village.No Cubano. Ham and cheese with mustard. A sandwich.
2.The Bay Cafe. San Rafael."Sliced roast pork and ham with provolone,pickles and roasted garlic artichoke spread on ciabatta," Enjoyed it.Nice to have in the neighborhood.
3.Sol Food. San Rafael.4th and Lincoln. A lime green paint job that made Angelo's blood
boil.Check for his letter at the front door. The sandwich was the biggest of the 3 and the closest to the description.The pickles could have been more in evidence but worth the trip across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and to also get the mofongo for my vegan daughter.
Mofongo has been a Grail since Epstein on "Welcome Back Kotter" said his mother made
gefilte mofongo. Anyway, a rave for the sandwich.

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  1. Vegan mofongo? Gefilte mofongo? Huh?

    1. Vegan mofongo,no pork rinds,no lard,just plantain and garlic mashed and refried.The joke
      was Epstein had a Jewish mother and a Puerto Rican father.Today we call it fusion.

      2 Replies
      1. re: wolverine61

        I think that should properly be called mangu.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          You must be Dominican.I've heard Puerto Ricans prefer to call the dish mofongo.

      2. Cool. Thanks for the report. I still favor Bay Cafe but good to hear a report by someone who knows their Cubanos.

        Have you ever tried El Rincon on 16th at Harrison?

        First it took me years to get over the look of the place. By then, I had moved out of the city and never seem to get over there when they are open.

        Looks like they've added to the Cuban menu. For a while it was pretty much the Cubano and one or two other dishes.

        Now they have croquettas, pan con lechon, ropa vieja, vaca frita, masitas de puerco fritas, congris, yucca con mojo, plantanos, tostones and chircharitas. They also have Cuban sodas like Jupina and Cuban coffe.

        1. IMO good Cuban anything will be hard to come by, I don't think they favor the weather here.

          The Bay Cafe - the sandwich mentioned was pretty good.

          I wonder if El Nuevo Frutilandia has a Cubano? mostly Carribean and Puerto Rican.

          2 Replies
            1. re: Lori SF

              >I wonder if El Nuevo Frutilandia has a Cubano? mostly Carribean and Puerto Rican.
              they certainly used to and i suspect the still do, but i havent been there in a few months.

            2. The Taste wine bar in the Epicurious Garden complex in Berkeley has a good Cuban, although the way their menu changes, it's hard to say how long it'll be around.

              1. While I generally disapprove of paying for sandwiches (and don't get me started on spizrods who order turkey sandwiches in ethnic delis) I do make exceptions. As Dan Leone once pointed out,one is not likely to find a hot pastrami sandwich in one's fridge. The Cubano is another exception and my favorite comes from Birleys in Embarcadero Ctr. (The one nearest J.H. Plaza.) Although it is not always available on Saturday, when it is it comes "with gravy". If you drive into the garage after 10 a.m.,they will validate for 4 hours free parking. Never rush from the market again. Take in a movie. Relax.

                1. (details on Birley's Cubano, roast pork, ham, swiss cheese,dill pickle slice and Sriracha sauce on focaccia grilled.) MMMM.

                  1. If you haven't tried Delessio's Cuban Pork Panini, put it on the top of your list. It is amazing. The more accessible Delessio is by the panhandle at Broderick and Fell.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: lvr1176

                      The time I tried Delessio's Cuban, the pork had a wet, braised character rather than roasted. One of the few disappointing things I've had, otherwise I'm a big Delessio fan.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Agreed! Suprisingly bad Cuban at Delessio's. The bread was soggy and meat was greasy. blah.

                        While I would never profess to be an expert on the cubano, I had one recently at The Grove on Fillmore and it was great.

                        1. re: allyally

                          Couldn't find the Fillmore branch, but here's it is on the menu for the Chestnut street location of The Grove.
                          The biggest problem I run into is dried out roast pork. Moist and juicy here?

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Not dried out, as I recall. May have to go for dinner tonight just to make sure I'm telling the truth here.

                            I'll admit, seems an unlikely place for a tasty cubano, but there ya go.

                            1. re: allyally

                              The Grove uses Katz's pastrami in its Reuben . . . on sliced sourdough. . . so nothing surprises me. Thanks for the tip.

                    2. Cafe Lo Cubano in Laurel Village of SF has good cuban sandwiches too!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: funmarysf

                        Could you describe Lo Cubano's please?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Cafe Lo Cubano is the place referred to in #1 in the original post.
                          The sandwiches there, as well as their coffee drinks, discussed in
                          a couple of SF board threads.

                          I think they are ok. I didnt personally think the price-perf was great,
                          but that's obviously a YMMV kind of thing. I think they have some decent
                          coffee drinks there and good quality free wireless. The used to be open
                          really late too. Still open till 12mid on Thr/Fri/Sat ... unless they have
                          started closing earlier than advertised. I havent been there in a couple
                          of months.

                          1. re: psb

                            Thanks, psb. Descriptions of the alleged Cubano here have been all over the board. Can't tell if this is in the realm of differing opinions or variability by the kitchen.

                      2. Acme Chophouse at the ballbpark also has a cubano on the menu.

                        1. There's a cubano sandwich on Salt House's lunch menu. It is $15.