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Good Cuban Sandwich in DC?

So, one of my co-workers asked me tonight where to find a good cuban sandwich in DC. I found myself stumped by this question as I've had excellent versions in Miami but never really sought them out here in DC. We prefer suggestions in the district rather than in VA or MD, as we live and work in DC and don't have cars. Thanks in adavance!

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  1. No Cubans in DC, so no cuban sandwiches.

    You won't find anything approaching what you'd find in a Miami gas station deli. That said, the cuban at Breadline is supposed to be good, but I've never had. The cuban at Banana Cafe is alright, but nothing to go out of your way for. Cubano's in Silver Spring is a 5 minute walk from the Metro and is prettty decent.

    Like philly cheesesteaks, the essential element is the bread, and nobody does cuban bread in DC. The other problem is that most places just use pork lunchmeat instead of roast pork loin and baked ham. Good luck.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monkeyrotica

      Not to call you out but you wrong on the bread. The key is good roast pork. anyone can press a sandwich. Dont bother with DC, go to Casa Adela on Loisada in nyc. Puerto Ricans make better cuabos anyway.

    2. I'm a big fan of the Cuban sandwich. But DC only has only a few examples that are worthy of satisfying that craving.

      One of the best I had was at Accadiana as a lunch special. Another reasonable facsimile is available at Willards Barbecue in Chantilly, which also has excellent barbecue.

      I wouldn't be surprised if Breadline has a good version, but I've never tried it there.

      The Hispanic community in the DC area is not overly Cuban. But you're going to find far better Peruvian and Honduran and Salvadoran specialties in this area than you'll find Cuban specialties.

      1. I realize you're looking for some place in DC, BUT I'm going to suggest a restaurant in MD that is still within the metrobus lines so you can get there even without having a car. There's a fantastic Cuban restaurant in Burtonsville, MD, called Cuba de Ayer. It's on Sandy Spring Rd (MD Rt. 198) off US 29 N. They have good Cuban sandwiches with real roasted pork loin. The rest of the menu is wonderful as well and the prices are reasonable. Portions are huge. My favorite entrees are the boliche and the ropa vieja sandwich. The website for the restaurant is www.cubadeayerrestaurant.com.

        1. I am a Miamian who loves Cuban food, and I have a sister-in-law who is Cuban and an excellent cook. But I have to confess that the Cuban bread I was used to in Miami tastes like styrofoam to me. Breadline's Cubano is phenomenal, if not completely traditional. They make the bread special for this sandwich alone, and it is available only on Thursdays for lunch. Breadline is never open for dinner. I have heard of other good Cubano's in the area, but this is the only one I've had that is exceptional.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            Is there still a Cuban place in the International Square food court, by Farragut West? I was working at the World Bank nearly 10 years ago, and used to stop in here for a decent Cubano, Media Noche, or Ropa Vieja.

            1. re: DanielK

              Yes, Havana Cafe is still there. You can occassionally hit gold there, but you have to get lucky. Mostly, it is not fresh and too salty. If the masitas de puerco have not dried, they are probably the best bet along with the empanadas. But they range from moist and fresh to sawdust.

              1. re: Steve

                Had the masitas w/ black beans, rice and maduros Monday night at Lauriol Plaza. Not as good as Rey's Cafeteria in Hialeah, but the best I've had in the DC area. My wife had the carne asada, which was perfect. People on this board love to hate on Lauriol, but their Cuban food is pretty much on the money.

                1. re: flavrmeistr

                  I agree, based on your suggestion I also had the masitas at Lauriol Plaza. These days, with so many South Americans cooking in Cuban restaurants, you'd be lucky to find Cuban food that good in Miami.

                  1. re: Steve

                    Steve, flavrmeistr, have you guys been to Mi Cuba in Columbia Heights yet? The real deal. I lived in SoFla for nearly a decade, and this is as good as what I had down there.

                    1. re: DanielK

                      I haven't been there yet. Tried to go once, but they were closing up by the time I got there.

                      I'll put it near the front of my brain.

                      1. re: Steve

                        If I remember correctly, they're also closed one odd weeknight, either Tuesday or Wednesday.

                        1. re: DanielK

                          Ahh, that might have been the problem.

          2. I've seen Cuban sandwiches advertised at the Bean Counter, an adorable coffee shop in Georgetown (up Wisconsin Avenue, headed up towards Safeway). I haven't had a chance to try them yet.

            1 Reply
            1. re: hamster

              i see this sign all of the time too, and have always wanted to go in and try it. i hear they have great food, so it's probably worth a try.

            2. I had a Cuban friday at Clyde's on the Walk in Chinatown. It's a special, not on the regular menu. It was good, most sandwiches here are, but a bit thin on the pork. Lots of ham, swiss, and sliced pickles, pressed hot on a grill top and cast iron pan (not a proper heated sandwich presser). Hefty serving.

              Another place that has a Cuban is Cafe Atlantico. I've had it, but can't remember much about it. I'm sure it was fine, but I think the bread was toasted rather than pressed.

              1. By the way, I like this link....


                Best bet is to wait for Castro to die, then take a nice cheap trip to Havana. Have a sandwich, then go to a good baseball game and smoke a decent cigar with a fabulous glass of real Cuban rum.

                1. I know you said DC, but the Carribean Grill in Arlington off 29 (kind of a whole in the wall great chicken too) has them and they are pretty darn good, although the chicken is addictive.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    Second the Caribbean Grill at Lee Hwy (29) and N. George Mason Drive in Arlington. Lots of fresh cooked goodies like fried yucca and much more!

                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      I read this and then tried the Cuban at the carribean grill. It was a major disappointment! I was only able to swallow a few bites. The ham on it was thick cut and tough. It may have been out of a can. I even tried removing the ham and eating it without the ham and it was still pretty gross. This might have been top 5 worst sandwiches of my life. All I can say is: Don't do it!

                      1. re: primusf

                        Wow. I am definitely not an expert on the Cuban sandwich, but I've had it at the Caribbean Grill a few times in the last 5 years. I don't know if it is the best example of the sandwich in the area, but I didn't have an experience like yours at all. I thought it was fine, and I would go back.

                        1. re: primusf

                          Interesting -- unless things have really changed for the worse at the Caribbean Grill this is a major shocker.

                      2. Port of Piraeus serves up an acceptable version.

                        1. The best Cuban sandwich I have had in DC was at lunch at Ceiba. Not sure it is always on the menu but it is pretty good.

                          I also had a good one at a lunch at Olives of all places. I ordered it more out of curiousity than anything, but it was pretty good.

                          Port of Piraeus has a tasty "Cubano" but it is not remotely authentic. Not pressed and has pork loin, ham, and turkey. I still order it a lot. Just don't go expecting the real deal.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dzherbst

                            Ceiba and Acadiana are relatives, right? I had one at Acadiana that was very good.

                          2. There is a softy custard ice cream place/Sandwich Cafe on I street NW between 17Th and 19th NW. I think they make a good cuban. Ive had it several times whenever I can and if i get there beforethe sandwich bar closes about 3pm.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Rickw

                              Dicky's Custard? I have never had a cuban sandwhich from there, but they have good paninis?

                            2. One of my favorites is SBC cafe. The address is 2501 McNair Farms Rd. (Centreville Rd.), Herndon, VA 20170.

                              1. Had an OK cuban sandwich at Mango Mike's in Alexandria...

                                1. Checkout Café Mayo in Georgetown, 3147 Dumbarton Street NW...great cubano!!! Puerto Ricans make it, and the pork is slow roasted, they make there own mayo, and pickle there own pickle. Its one of the best I ever had and I had them all the way form NY to Miami.

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: hill food

                                      Muncheez Mania is another underappreciated gem. Try the Mama's special or the lamb meat pie.