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Oct 11, 2007 07:14 AM

best phoenix cubano?

Well, I've been hearing about these cubano sandwiches for a long time but, living in NE Scottsdale there aren't too many nearby options. I finally tried one at LGO recently and it was really really good, but I'd like to go somewhere more authentic. The LGO version was served on baguette - is that right? And it cost like $8, a little steep as you'd expect. So where should I go to get the real thing?

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  1. Have you tried Havana Cafe and Patio on Bell Rd and 64th st.?

    1. Many restaurants that specialize in tortas offer a Cuban sandwich, or at least a Mexican interpretation of it. There has been some recent discussion focusing on good torta places in Central Phoenix and Sunnyslope:

      7 Replies
      1. re: silverbear

        Thanks - I searched the board for "cubano" but not torta. That helps a lot

        1. re: rbloom

          Some torta places call their version of the sandwich a "cubana." That's how it is at Tortas El Guero on 16th St.

          Tortas El Guero
          2518 N 16th St Ste 2, Phoenix, AZ 85006

          1. re: silverbear

            Actually, from what I understand, the Mexican torta labeled "cubano" or "cubana" bears no relationship to the Cuban sandwich. Loosely translated, "cubana(o)" is a slang term meaning something like "crazy" in Mexico, or in some of its parts, and crazy is an accurate characterization of those surreal, monstrous, wonderful tortas cubanas. Kind of like, in a way, the recent "Ask the Mexican" explanation that frijoles refritos are not literally refried beans, but in translation is more like "beans cooked to another level."

            1. re: misohungrychewlow

              cubano / cubana -- Interesting and good to know. Thanks.

              As for refritos, I do know that in Romance languages the prefix "re" serves to intensify the verb it precedes, as opposed to its function in English of suggesting repeated action. In that case, the "Ask a Mexican" explanation makes sense. Refried beans are beans that are fried intensively or, as you state, "to another level."

              Here's the link to this week's "Ask a Mexican" column:


              1. re: misohungrychewlow

                I'm Mexican and I've nver had fried beans.

                Refried beans tend to be frijoles de la olla that have been roughly mashed, creating a thick and creamy consitency. My best friend as a little girl used to crave her mom's version - made with cottage cheese. Um, sure.


              2. re: silverbear

                Thanks for this recommendation. I also read about Tortas El Guero in the recent thread on Tortas someone else posted. So I hauled my 4 year old daughter down there for lunch yesterday and got myself a Torta Cubana. It was really really good, and I liked the restaurant a lot. The sandwich had a lot of interesting items on it, not all of which I could identify: roast turkey (I think) breaded pork, jalepenos, ham etc. The bread was not super inspired but reminded me of the Portugese sweetbread I used to get in Providence, RI. It was soft and a little mushy, but it held up throughout the life of the sandwich. I guess I was expecting something a little crustier. The dressing was excellent - some kind of spicy mayo? I don't know.

                Anyway, it was my first real "Torta" and my second "Cubana." I now sorta know the difference between the two! I'm gonna definitely keep eating both of them. Thanks to all for the feedback.

          2. I'm assuming you've had Yard House's version of the sandwich? Probably not too authentic either, but tasty.

            Yard House Restaurant
            21001 N Tatum Blvd, Phoenix, AZ

            1 Reply
            1. re: azhotdish

              Nope - haven't had it, haven't been there. I'll have to try it sometime but I rarely go to Desert Ridge (or any mall) if I can avoid it. Hate to shop... Thanks for the tip though.

            2. "Every Cuban sandwich aficionado believes in their own version of this sandwich. In fact, they're usually passionate about this and will readily debate among themselves the finer point of how to make a Cuban sandwich. No visit to Tampa or Miami would be complete without sampling the cities claim to fame - the Cuban sandwich.

              The sandwiches have a submarine-style layering of ham, roast pork, cheese, and pickle between a sliced length of Cuban bread. The key to a great, versus a good, Cuban Sandwich lies in the grilling. A great Cuban sandwich is grilled in a sandwich press (called a plancha) until the ham, pork, and pickles have warmed in their own steam (the steady application of heat and weight fuse the meat, cheese, and bread into a delectable and compact treat). One of the greatest sins in Cuban sandwich preparation is too light a press. A heavy hand on the press pushes all the juices and flavors together while still achieving the desired crunch crust. These sandwiches use no mayonnaise, lettuce, onions, bell peppers, or tomatoes; however, butter and mustard are optional. Cuban sandwiches are sold hot (pressed) or cold (room temperature).

              The most important part of a Cuban sandwich is the bread. It is not ordinary bread, but Cuban bread. Believers say that true Cuban bread cannot be found outside of Tampa or Miami. Italian bread or French bread are acceptable substitutions in other parts of the country, but they are not the same. Cuban bread is noted for its split or bloom down the middle of its crust. This long, crusty loaf features a tender, but not chewy, interior. Cuban bread is best when it is eaten on the same day that it is made, as Cuban bread contains lard. After a day or so, the lard hardens, and the bread gets dry."

              I don't think anyone in town does a sandwich like this

              1. I just perused my food notes, and culled this little item:

                "Cuban Sandwiches
                59th Ave & Camelback
                SW side"

                I think that bit of info even came from these boards.

                I have yet to try it. I usually make my own at home, like the traditional recipe. I just can't get hold of any Cuban bread. Sometimes I attempt to approximate it by brushing challah or italian bread with butter and sprinkling on some sugar. I also use leftover carnitas meat as my roast pork.