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Looking for the best cuban sandwich

hoplover Jul 18, 2007 12:41 PM

I love Cuban Sandwiches and I had a really bad one this past weekend. I took some chowhound advice and wound up at Buffs pub for wings (ehh) and also ordered a Cuban Sandwich. It was maybe one of the worst sandwiches I have ever been served. It was very dry and the bread looked old and tasted old. The meats were nothing like what I have had in other Cuban Sandwiches. Believe it or not I did have a good one in Fenway Parlk at Louis Tients place. I am looking for one that really does have th roast pork and lots of pickles and mustard. Buttery and pressed. Does anyone have a favorite place that they get them at? Thanks.

Ps. Even though I did not like Buffs Pub I did have a nice waitress who gave great service and was friendly and efficient.

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  1. b
    Bostonbob3 RE: hoplover Jul 18, 2007 12:46 PM

    Chez Henri. Case closed (IMO).

    8 Replies
    1. re: Bostonbob3
      Bob Dobalina RE: Bostonbob3 Jul 18, 2007 02:09 PM

      El Oriental de Cuba - hands down.

      There, I've thrown down the gauntlet.

      1. re: Bob Dobalina
        Bostonbob3 RE: Bob Dobalina Jul 18, 2007 02:21 PM

        I like the Cubano there. I really do. Just not as much as the Chez Henri version.

        1. re: Bob Dobalina
          Harp00n RE: Bob Dobalina Jul 18, 2007 08:14 PM

          Conversely Bb3, I'm siding with BD. El Oriental's Cubano is the best and most authentic in town. I also like Chez Henri's non-trad, a lot, but if I've gotta choose gimme El Oriental de Cuba's.

          1. re: Harp00n
            Bostonbob3 RE: Harp00n Jul 19, 2007 06:04 AM

            Fair enough. But you're wrong.

            (That's a joke, BTW.)

            1. re: Bostonbob3
              hiddenboston RE: Bostonbob3 Jul 19, 2007 06:13 AM

              Chortle, chortle! You got a million of them, Bob! ;-b

              Another place that has good Cubanos is Pollo Tipico in Lawrence. They use pork that seems to almost have the consistency of brisket. Very delicious!

        2. re: Bostonbob3
          I can eat RE: Bostonbob3 May 28, 2009 12:08 PM

          Chez Henri, PLEASE! El Oriental de Cuba HAS OLD CUBAN WOMEN COOKING, ITS THE BEST

          1. re: I can eat
            Prav RE: I can eat May 28, 2009 12:11 PM

            My belief is that they're so radically different, they're not really comparable. The Chez Henri Cubano, while may not be cien por cien autentico like El Oriental, it's pretty goddamn amazing. And isn't that the crux of Chowhound - maximizing deliciousness.

            1. re: I can eat
              Harp00n RE: I can eat May 30, 2009 12:57 AM

              Having to choose between the two, I'll take EOdC but Chez Henri's is still a damn fine sandwich by any measure. BTW, why are you SHOUTING???


          2. hiddenboston RE: hoplover Jul 18, 2007 12:56 PM

            I'd have to go with Chez Henr, tooi. Can't think of any other that approaches the greatness of their sandwich...

            1. Bob MacAdoo RE: hoplover Jul 18, 2007 01:10 PM

              Izzy's in Cambridge, which specializes in Puerto Rican fare, makes a mean Cuban sub - great meats, lots of pickles, slathered in mustard.

              15 Replies
              1. re: Bob MacAdoo
                gini RE: Bob MacAdoo Jul 18, 2007 01:29 PM

                Can you (or itaunus) talk more about Izzy's? Stumbled across it last night on a haphazard trip from Central to Inman and wondered what's good there.

                1. re: gini
                  itaunas RE: gini Jul 18, 2007 01:55 PM

                  Izzy's is a combination sub shop and Puerto Rican restaurant that dates back to roughly the early 80s. Usually you will be served by Izzy or his wife, but they didn't manage to get their kids to remain with the shop. I tend to order off the 6-7 fixed daily plates that rotate through the week, trying my best to time visits around the pernil (Fridays and Saturdays). Which is falling apart pork shoulder, slightly spicy and with a achiote tint, which I get with yellow rice (with some pigeon peas). I have had the goat, the ropa vieja, and the oxtail. The Montanero plate is also good for two, but I still stick to the specials. For whatever reason haven't had the mondongo there. Other things to order would be a side of tostones, yuca al mojo... some of the stuff in the fried case is decent, but hasn't wowed me (sometimes fresher than others, but usually not too stale).

                  I would eat lunch there every week if there was metered parking nearby. Also they usually take a summer vacation of up to a month, so check they are open before making a trip. No booze, but I think they do take credit.

                  1. re: itaunas
                    gini RE: itaunas Jul 18, 2007 02:06 PM

                    Thank you, that sounds fabulous. Sounds like dinner next week!

                    1. re: gini
                      itaunas RE: gini Jul 18, 2007 02:15 PM

                      Puerto Rican food tends to be a bit greasy by some standards and Izzy's is not exempt, but is far from the most greasy I have had. (Hint I have seen the white goya manteca food service containers around there.) I also think they use some premixed spices for seasoning a fair amount of the dishes, so someone allergic to MSG might have a bit of trouble there.

                      The neighborhood around there has improved since Izzy opened, but it doesn't hurt to be careful at night. In the past you might have had people drinking 40s on the sidewalk just across the street, but there are still areas (the basketball court further up the street) where that might still go on.

                    2. re: itaunas
                      buffet king RE: itaunas Jul 19, 2007 04:50 AM

                      Itaunas, what is the Montanero plate? Can you park on the street near Izzy's? What else would you recommend at Izzy's?

                      1. re: buffet king
                        itaunas RE: buffet king Jul 19, 2007 07:24 AM

                        Montanero (roughly "country platter") is their combo plate with rice and beans, beef and pork, fried plantains, and maybe a salad.

                        Parking is the problem right at Izzys. Both Harvard and Windsor at that location are permit parking. There is non-permit parking near the convenience store at Mass Ave and Windsor, around the Church at Harvard and Prospect, around Broadway (closer to Prospect where the squirrel nut factory used to be) and Windsor, and on Portland St (there is also parking right around the garment district and the basketball courts behind).

                        So you will either need to walk in or take your risk with permit parking. (Cambridge doesn't have 8pm meters yet, nor are they as aggressive at night as Somerville, so you might be ok in the 7:30-9pm timeframe. There are some spots that turn permit at 6pm, so they do sweep through the area sometime after 6pm and I have been caught before then.)

                        1. re: itaunas
                          buffet king RE: itaunas Jul 19, 2007 07:30 AM

                          Is the beef and pork grilled or fried in the Montanero? How about daytime parking for lunch. I want to pickup some takeout for lunch. Is there a metered parking lot close by? Thanks for the information.

                          1. re: buffet king
                            itaunas RE: buffet king Jul 19, 2007 08:02 AM

                            Fried, probably on the griddle. They do have a milanese (breaded fried state) combo plate, so they might sub that for you if you ask nicely. But consider the daily plates too (carne guisado, stewed goat, ropa vieja, roast pork, etc)

                            No metered lot nearby, there are a couple of spots right by Mass Ave (near Royal East). Last time I was there they were redoing the curb out front, but there wasn't any indication that there would be a drop off area.

                            If you are looking for a charbroiled steak, Tropico (salvadoran) on Cambridge St has a decent carne asada taco (and nice chicken legs).

                        2. re: buffet king
                          galangatron RE: buffet king Jul 19, 2007 08:27 PM

                          late but i second the pernil, goat, and oxtail

                        3. re: itaunas
                          buffet king RE: itaunas Jul 19, 2007 10:48 AM

                          I took a test drive to Izzy's in Cambridge. It was easy to find. Izzy's is closed for vacation. I went to J&J Restaurant in Somerville for some takeout. I got a beef prego sandwich ($3) and an order of pork and clams ($10.95). The beef prego sandwich was okay but a little dry. The pork and clams were very good. Nice marinated pork cubes, diced fried potatoes and littleneck clams in a very tasty broth.

                          1. re: buffet king
                            itaunas RE: buffet king Jul 19, 2007 11:06 AM

                            Yeah, I warned Gini to call ahead earlier in the thread. I think the Snack Bar also goes on vacation soon.

                            One thing you might consider at J&J (that hounds seem to miss) is they have Molotov, one of the two local Portuguese restaurants that carry it (Sunset is the other). I'm not going to describe it to leave a little suspense, but it is unique (hint many portuguese sweets are yolk-heavy, so this is different).

                        4. re: gini
                          Trumpetguy RE: gini Jul 18, 2007 05:31 PM

                          I really liked the octopus salad there! Special only, I believe...

                        5. re: DanInCambridge
                          buffet king RE: DanInCambridge Aug 3, 2007 09:55 AM

                          I went to Izzy's today to get some food for lunch. I got a large roast pork sub ($4.95) with mustard, pickles, salami and ham. I asked if it was like a Cuban sandwich and the man at the counter said yes. I have never had a Cuban sandwich or a roast pork sandwich before. The roast pork was juicy, flavorful and not dried out. The sub was delicious. The pickles and mustard made the sub taste so much better. I also tried a beef turnover and a chicken & cheese turnover. Both were homemade according to the guy at Izzy's. I liked the beef turnover better than the chicken one. I also picked up some food for dinner. I got the Montanero plate with yellow rice and pigeon peas, fried plantains and a salad. I will have that for dinner. Note: parking is a problem at Izzy's. All of the side streets near Izzy's are permit parking only. There are some parking meters on Broadway near the Garment District store. I parked in a metered space on Broadway and walked to Izzy's. I will definately return to Izzy's in Cambridge.

                          1. re: buffet king
                            Dax RE: buffet king Aug 3, 2007 10:42 AM

                            Traditional Cubans don't have salami on them, but I understand that the ones at Montrose sometimes contain mortadella (per an old thread here).

                            1. re: Dax
                              buffet king RE: Dax Aug 3, 2007 01:27 PM

                              I'm pretty sure there was salami in the roast pork sub. Definately there were ham on the bottom of the sub. It was close to a Cuban sandwich. However, it wasn't grilled like a Cuban sandwich. Also I think a Cuban sandwich has swiss cheese. There wasn't any swiss cheese in the sub but it was very tasty. You can't go wrong for almost 5 bucks it was a nice packed sub. It was very filling and packed with pickles on top. Cudos, to Izzy's!

                        6. m
                          mvi RE: hoplover Jul 18, 2007 01:17 PM

                          I know it is not in Boston but if you ever go south and cross the water to Martha's Vineyard, Humphreys has amazing Cubans. Just as you describe. Keep it in mind for a day trip some day- and they are open year round in their Vineyard Haven location.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mvi
                            phoebek RE: mvi Aug 3, 2007 05:37 PM

                            humphreys also has the best donuts (and holes)!

                          2. itaunas RE: hoplover Jul 18, 2007 01:25 PM

                            If you can't get a seat at the bar at Chez Henri, continue up Mass Ave to Arlington and give the Cubano at Tryst a try. Its not 100% traditional, but worth it. Less than the Chez Henri too. I like their bar, apps, and sandwiches, but have always avoided the dining room.

                            Absolutely worth the visit to Izzys for their roast pork, but have never had their cuban sub myself. And if you are doing a Cubano tour, make sure to visit El Oriental de Cuba.

                            Updated: Link to Tryst review http://www.chowhound.com/topics/322063

                            1. steinpilz RE: hoplover Jul 18, 2007 01:44 PM

                              I've had good cubano's at Daedalus and the Plough and Stars, I'm not an expert though and I haven't had the one at Chez Henri yet.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: steinpilz
                                yumyum RE: steinpilz Jul 18, 2007 02:14 PM

                                Ooh. I forgot about the cubano at the Plough. It's very good. They do chop up little gherkins though, instead of using slabs of sliced pickle. And I think they use some kind of spicy mayo not just the plain mustard but I bet you could ask them to make it your way. So, not traditional but worth adding to your must-try list along with the best in town, Chez Henri.

                              2. itaunas RE: hoplover Jul 18, 2007 02:43 PM

                                Another Cubano that has come up from time to time (not as the "best" but it has its fans), is the Montrose Spa. Since I have never had it, I wanted to point you to an earlier thread (there are several others).


                                3 Replies
                                1. re: itaunas
                                  yumyum RE: itaunas Jul 18, 2007 02:54 PM

                                  I revisited the Montrose Spa cuban recently. It's a good sandwich. Pefectly decent, with sliced ham and roast pork with decent cheese and mustard pressed between decent bread. It's cheap and satisfying. It's no way the best. I need to get over to el Oriental de Cuba to be reminded of theirs (haven't been since the fire), but it would have to be verry special to trump Chez Henri's.

                                  1. re: yumyum
                                    jpeso RE: yumyum Jul 18, 2007 03:18 PM

                                    Miami Cafe in the south end on aquadilla street is pretty good (especially if they know you) very simple, but the meats are great. Chez Henri is well worth it. Sam Lagrassa's in Downtown Crossing has an amazing cuban but i think it may only be a Thursday Special. Montrose is decent too, on Mass ave just beyond Harvard Sqaure

                                    1. re: yumyum
                                      newhound RE: yumyum Jul 18, 2007 04:39 PM

                                      Agreed-- The Montrose Spa sandwich is pretty good. The family running the place is Cuban, and their meats are Boar's Head, which I don't think have reached Havana yet, distributor-wise ;-). The wife of the couple is very complimentary to Chez Henri's Cubano, but wrinkles her nose at the idea of chipotle mayo. "There's no chipotle in Cuba!" she laughs.

                                  2. limster RE: hoplover Jul 18, 2007 03:29 PM

                                    If you're comparing inauthentic Cuban sandwiches, I prefer the one at Volle Nolle over the one at Chez Henri. More flavour in the marinated pork.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: limster
                                      thekidd RE: limster Jul 18, 2007 04:11 PM

                                      i second the volle nolle cubano!! somewhat of an interpretation on the real thing- no pickles and aoili instead of mustard- but outstanding nonetheless. defs worth a stroll over to the north end. . .

                                    2. Harp00n RE: hoplover Jul 18, 2007 08:21 PM

                                      Anyone had the Cubano at the Purple Pimps' Pal's place yet, aka Lime Rickey's???

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Harp00n
                                        Northstar22 RE: Harp00n Jul 21, 2007 02:44 PM

                                        Best Cuban and most authentic is definetely at El Oriental, also great Ropa Vija. Izzy's octopus salad is amazing, I think it is a monday or tuesday special although i asked on a off night and they made it for me. Have had the pork chops with rice and beans that were very good.

                                      2. g
                                        Guinness02122 RE: hoplover Aug 1, 2007 04:34 PM

                                        I like the Cuban sandwich I had at Audobon Circle. Best I can remember.

                                        1. tater_tot RE: hoplover Aug 5, 2007 08:27 AM

                                          There are two places in downtown Boston you should consider for Cubanos...

                                          Plaza Deli in Center Plaza, near government center. They roast their own meats there. The cubano is a special on Fridays. However, if they have roast pork on the menu on other days, you can ask for a cubano, and they will make it for you. I think it's one of the best - and better than the cubano at Chez Henri.

                                          Sam LaGrasse's also makes a nice cuban sandwich.

                                          1. SLL1065 RE: hoplover Aug 5, 2007 08:30 AM

                                            If you're willing to drive to Framingham, James' Place on Waverly Street (Rte. 135) makes an awesome Cuban sandwich.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: SLL1065
                                              Harp00n RE: SLL1065 Aug 5, 2007 09:03 AM

                                              I think a link of your OP on James' Place is in order here . As you noted in a follow-up post on that thread, they use French in lieu of Cuban bread which is hardly a deal-breaker if everything else is authentic. Thanks for posting it again and time for me to finally go! http://www.chowhound.com/topics/393952


                                              1. re: Harp00n
                                                Harp00n RE: Harp00n Aug 5, 2007 09:14 AM

                                                I know I'm being redundant, but i sure as hell wish we could edit for "link to a place" :-(
                                                Here's some additional info; http://www.city-data.com/profiles/2937

                                                James' Place
                                                69 Waverly St, Framingham, MA 01702

                                            2. x
                                              xuli RE: hoplover Dec 23, 2008 05:09 AM

                                              Listening to NPR on the way home from work in the snow on Friday listening to Radio Boston where they had Barbara Lynch and some other Boston Chefs discussing favorite meals. Great episode, and it seems to be archived here: http://www.radioboston.org/

                                              Lynch mentions that her friend, "just opened a Cuban sandwich shop," presumably in Boston and presumably worth seeking out. Does anyone have any idea what this establishment might be or even where it is?

                                              I know it's not a lot to go on but I figured crowdsourcing to the 'hounds was my best bet short of stalking Lynch herself.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: xuli
                                                Bob Dobalina RE: xuli Dec 23, 2008 05:25 AM

                                                Why, for a $54 cubano? ;)

                                                1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                  Gabatta RE: Bob Dobalina Dec 23, 2008 08:12 PM


                                                2. re: xuli
                                                  BostonZest RE: xuli Dec 23, 2008 05:40 AM

                                                  She was talking about Paul O'Connell at Chez Henri. The group was discussing ethnic food and she said, "I always say that my friend Paul O'Connell should just open up a Cuban sandwich shop and call it a day."

                                                  1. re: BostonZest
                                                    xuli RE: BostonZest Dec 26, 2008 10:50 AM

                                                    Excellent - I've been listening to bits and pieces of the broadcast to try and track down that snippet but keep inadvertently closing the browser. Now, with context, I couldn't agree more!

                                                3. s
                                                  stradacouple RE: hoplover Dec 24, 2008 04:54 AM

                                                  The bar at Olives in Charlestown does (at least they did up to a few months ago) a great cuban sandwich.

                                                  1. cassoulady RE: hoplover Dec 24, 2008 12:55 PM

                                                    Get a cuban at El Oriental de Cuba to go, and walk to the Brendan Behan and eat it with a beer. yum!!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: cassoulady
                                                      pondrat RE: cassoulady Dec 24, 2008 03:17 PM

                                                      I second EOdC...and get some fried plantains for a side !! Closest I've found the famous Versailles in Miami's Little Havana

                                                    2. Alcachofa RE: hoplover Jan 25, 2009 08:10 AM

                                                      The last time I was at El Oriental de Cuba, I liked the Cuban Sandwich well enough, but wasn't that thrilled by it.

                                                      I went back yesterday and it was MUCH better than I remember. Plus, much bigger as well (did they increase sandwich size after the fire?). All ingredients were great, although I wouldn't mind if they put just a little more cheese in there.

                                                      Rice and beans and tostones were also good.

                                                      El Oriental De Cuba
                                                      416 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                                                      13 Replies
                                                      1. re: Alcachofa
                                                        Bob Dobalina RE: Alcachofa Jan 25, 2009 08:25 AM

                                                        I think that all of these posts are references to the post-fire sandwiches. The entire menu is pretty darn tremendous.

                                                        1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                          Alcachofa RE: Bob Dobalina Jan 25, 2009 08:34 AM

                                                          Yes, I should have mentioned my previous trip to EOdC was around 10 years ago.

                                                          1. re: Alcachofa
                                                            Bob Dobalina RE: Alcachofa Jan 25, 2009 01:21 PM

                                                            I hope you get back again sooner. That sandwich is too good to go only once a decade!

                                                            1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                              Harp00n RE: Bob Dobalina Jan 30, 2009 12:31 PM

                                                              Does that mean that you're now willing to concede that EOdC is the preeminent Cubano purveyor in Beantown? :-)


                                                              (That's not a joke, BTW)

                                                              1. re: Harp00n
                                                                Bob Dobalina RE: Harp00n Jan 30, 2009 12:55 PM

                                                                Me? I'm already in that camp.

                                                                1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                                  Harp00n RE: Bob Dobalina Jan 30, 2009 02:17 PM

                                                                  Oops...a thousand pardons, my mistake! 'twas that other "Bob", Bostonbob3 further up the post who's mis-guided. I humbly beg pardon your "Bob-ness"!


                                                                  1. re: Harp00n
                                                                    pondrat RE: Harp00n Jan 30, 2009 02:57 PM

                                                                    Hey Harp,

                                                                    You (or anyone else) been to Jame's Place in Framingham that someone mentioned on a previous Cuban Sandwich thread. Curious how it compares with the other places. I spent years in Miami and worked in Cuba so the bar is set pretty high.

                                                                    1. re: pondrat
                                                                      Harp00n RE: pondrat Jan 31, 2009 06:17 PM

                                                                      Hey pondrat,
                                                                      It's my sad duty to inform you that James' Place is no more.
                                                                      This was a more than decent hot dog joint that also happen to offer a presentable Cubano, even if it was on French, rather than Cuban bread,

                                                                      Sadder still is the demise of Ashland's Oregon Club. The owner decided to retire at this time. I don't know whether the hard times were a factor but in both cases it's a another two non-cookie cutter places we've lost.

                                                                      All the best,

                                                                      1. re: Harp00n
                                                                        pondrat RE: Harp00n Feb 1, 2009 05:00 PM

                                                                        I'm still in denial about The Oregon Club...truly the end of an era !! I suspect it will be resurrected as it has been in the past....not soon enough though.. This on the heels of the Chat being shut down for a month for infractions and required renovations..

                                                                        1. re: pondrat
                                                                          Harp00n RE: pondrat Feb 2, 2009 04:27 AM

                                                                          Yup, I'm holding those same hopeful thoughts myself regards The Oregon Club. I wasn't at The Chat that day but it's not a very savory story as the details were relayed to me.


                                                                          1. re: Harp00n
                                                                            pondrat RE: Harp00n Feb 2, 2009 06:08 AM

                                                                            Multiply your most unsavory impressions by 2 !

                                                                2. re: Harp00n
                                                                  Alcachofa RE: Harp00n Jan 31, 2009 02:02 PM

                                                                  I'll be going back to EOdC soon to try other items as well as the sandwich, but I think Chez Henri's is better.

                                                                  1. re: Alcachofa
                                                                    Harp00n RE: Alcachofa Jan 31, 2009 05:55 PM

                                                                    You may earnestly believe that, you'd be wrong., in this Mick's opinion! :-)


                                                                    BTW, there is lot's more to sample here.

                                                        2. b
                                                          bostonbroad RE: hoplover Jan 30, 2009 01:31 PM

                                                          I have trouble deciding between El Oriental and Tostado's (Washington Street in Roslindale). Tostado's service can be pretty inconsistent, so I guess I'd have to go with El Oriental.

                                                          1. wellington RE: hoplover May 30, 2009 09:25 AM

                                                            I love Chez Henri's version of the pressed Cuban sandwich. If you can grab a seat at the small bar, order a beer or mojito and enjoy their simply delicious pork sandwich.

                                                            1. r
                                                              rb15 RE: hoplover May 30, 2009 12:35 PM

                                                              Like other haev said, O de Cuba has a decent Cubano. The best one in JP, though, is definitely at Miami Restaurant. Great little place, across from the Brendan Behan in Hyde Square. The right bread, perfect roast pork, and the batidos are much better than they are at O de C (smoother, if that makes any sense). There's also a decent Cubano at Guaro y Tambora on Washington St. in Roslindale (south of Forest Hills, north of Rosi Center - I think it used to be a Mexican place?). Guaro is techinically a Dominican restaurant.

                                                              1. g
                                                                glenn mcdonald RE: hoplover Jun 5, 2009 02:35 PM

                                                                Not an actual cubano, but I just had the "cubano torta" at Olecito in Inman Square, which they must have added the menu within the last month. A torta roll with their magnificent braised pork, cheese, pickles, ham, prosciutto and a chipotle dressing. Toasted, not pressed. So no more a cubano than a "hamburger pizza" is a hamburger, but: man was it good!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: glenn mcdonald
                                                                  pocketviking RE: glenn mcdonald Jun 5, 2009 03:29 PM

                                                                  Amen, says the athiest. In fact, everything I've had at Olecito has been good, really good. How great would it be if Ole reworked their menu, kept their liquor license and served some of their Olecito food (even at a mark-up)? Fantastic. [Athiest is praying.]

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