Cubano with Falling Apart Roast Pork, not Usual Sliced and Dry?
Melanie Wong's recent post about picking up some piglet belly and having it destined for some Cuban lechon asado reminded me that I had my first Cubano sandwich with succulent, moist roast pork shreds in Key West a couple of months ago. Any place in the Bay Area where the pork stands out on the cubano sandwich, tender and carnitas like?
Just some notes about Cubano's that I have learned: I know that the traditional is ham, pork, mustard, pickles, cheese on pressed Cuban bread, but it turns out that the addition of genoa salami is pretty common, especially in the Tampa area. Also, in Miami and Key West many places add lettuce, tomato and mayo, enough that it is almost a regional variant.
I've added some pics so you can see the roasty, falling apart pork- this is from Jose's Cantinas in Key West, and the pork on the sandwich is their lechon asado.
It's been a few years since I had it, but Delessio makes a Cuban with pork that falls into chunks and has kind of a braised quality. Birley's describes its Cuban as made with pork carnitas, haven't had it.
I lived in Tampa for many years and always read that some Cuban sandwiches were made with salami, but I never actually ran into one made that way. Lettuce and tomato are pretty common in Tampa, though.
For me the roast pork really makes the sandwich -- many people in Tampa will say it's the bread, and it's true that you can't get Cuban bread here, but the flavor punch comes from the roast pork's mojo marinade. I had a couple Cubans when I was back in Tampa over the holidays and was a little surprised to find that the Cuban sandwich at La Bodeguita del Medio in Palo Alto is awfully competitive for flavor -- although at nearly three times the price. I haven't had a Cuban sandwich anywhere else out here other than Sol Food in San Rafael, which I recall as also being pretty good.
When I've had them with salami it is almost hard to detect- the layer of salami is one slice thick (while the pork and ham are in almost equal proportions and they both dwarf the salami). One time we were actually talking about how we were wondering what places put salami on their cubanos, only to find the cubanos we were actually eating at the time had salami on them.
I forgot to mention that Rock of Gibraltar Comestibles (Iberia in Menlo Park's attached deli and food shop) has cubanos. The pork was moist but not overly flavorful. They make a traditional version and the bread is buttered adding richness.
They aren't super cheap, but on a nice day it is fine to sit outside and have one. I should try it again.
I guess I will mention that Ace of Sandwiches on El Camino in Palo Alto has a non-traditional version (no pork) just ham and salami with mustard and pickles and cheese. The put it on foccaccia and then it gets the sandwich press. It isn't crackery like Cuban bread, but it does get some crunch to it and is quite flattened. I get them because they taste good for what they are, but they won't help with a fix.
Ace of Sandwiches
3864 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Rock of Gibraltar
1026 Alma St, Menlo Park, CA
Had a really good Cubano in this style from Blue Fog Market on Polk St. This was my first time there. The menu board description was a bit different than the online menu. First off, it's a buck less at $8.99. The pork is described as Puerto Rican style roast pork. It made with pulled shoulder, tender as can be and really juicy. More importantly, it has more seasoning than any of the Cubanos I've had in the Bay Area. The mojo sauce seems to be mayonnaise-based. It's very garlicky with a lot of oregano, and could use a little more citrus lift. The bread was sturdier than Cuban bread, but that's usual out here. This was an enormous sandwich for the price, probably weighing more than a pound. Just half was a substantial lunch.
El Chevere in San Rafael may fit your bill. They have lechon mojo on the menu and I assume it is the same roast pork they are using in the sandwich. It also includes lettuce & tomato.
Pretty tasty, but rather modest layers of pork, ham & cheese for around $9. The same cubano would go for about $3 on Calle Ocho in Miami.