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Jan 19, 2013 05:29 AM

Cuban Sandwichs In Tampa Area

Heading out to stay at Indian Shores Beach from Tampa airport next week. Would love to stop for good Cuban sandwichs with the family along the way or not too awfully far afield. Any reccos?

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  1. It's not going to be an 'ethnic' experience, but it's close to the airport and the Cuban sandwich is exceptional.... 'extra cheese, pressed well ---- no lettuce and tomato'...
    That's my routine everywhere...
    'Wright's Gourmet House' on Dale Mabry Highway... A few dollars more for quality ingredients...

    For a massive ethnic and historical experience go to The Columbia restaurant in Ybor City---- 20 minutes up the road.... If you're not familiar with the area you will most likely LOVE the historical strip of Ybor... 'EEbor'... The Columbia does a nice Cuban sandwich... The place is mind-blowing...

    Then there are local small casual Cuban restaurants close to the airport on Columbus Drive, near the stadium.... Arco Iris and La Teresita are highly regarded neighborhood favorites...
    Almost all of these small popular neighborhood places pump out inexpensive cookie-cutter Cuban sandwiches that are often pre-made for the day, and stacked, ready for condiments and then the press...

    I have a mild aversion to this but even these can be half-way decent with 'extra cheese, pressed well'... This lets heat get to the center to release the meat's juices and melts the cheese... To me, a Cuban sandwich with 'only the bread' toasty and warm is the equivalent of cold pizza ---- good, but not what God intended...

    If you go to Arco Iris, which means 'rainbow' in Spanish, get the Caldo Gallego soup too... A creamy, garlicky, beany, collard green soup... It's 'love'....

    Hope you have a great trip!

    YEAH, sure, I'll meet you there.... ;-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Mild Bill

      Thank you very much for the input. Three of us went to Arco Iris with big appetites at lunch time. Had the caldo gallego, cuban sandwiches, fried yucca, sangria, plantains, cuban coffe and flan. The soup was quite special. Waddled out happy. Want to return for dinner during the week. Thinking of trying fish, lamb and/or beef dinners.

      Thank you again.

      1. re: JPR

        Excellent! Glad you feasted and were happy!

    2. La Teresita is just a few blocks from Arco Iris with great Cuban food for very reasonable prices. I just finished my leftover ropa veija and it was a delicious. The Cuban sandwich is one of the best in Tampa Bay paired with the garbanzo bean soup. I have tried so many based on reviews and always return here.

      5 Replies
      1. re: floridaeater

        La Teresita has media noche's too! They're harder to find than a Cuban sandwich sometimes.

        It is really hard to beat the pork or the chicken served at Las Margaritas on Hillsborough. Pretty modest spot with a strong local customer base. Excellent plátanos maduros!

        1. re: meatn3

          You're very right about Las Margaritas... I've been going there for twenty something years! That 1/2 Lemon Chicken Dinner is a SCENE man!! And yeah, their roast pork is very good!

          Their two signature dishes I think are the Lemon Rotisserie Chicken, and the Vaca Frita!!!
          A generous portion of soft, juicy, caramelized, flavorful, Flank Steak with onions and peppers... Poured over the Yellow Rice?!

          1. re: Mild Bill

            My family and I have been going for easily 20+ years too. Their yuca is the best. The only thing I don't care for is the salad - not bad but not worth filling up on when everything else is so good.

            Prior to that we used to go to La Toms (?spell) I think that closed late '80's/early '90's.

            Boy, I miss good Cuban more week and I'll have a chance to get there hopefully! If I get there more than once I'll have to try the Vaca Frita!

            1. re: meatn3

              Ah, that big tan colored place at Armenia and Columbus, 'Latam'... It was short for LATin AMerican...Yeah, I used to go there too...

              Actually, they moved to Ybor, but in 2012 they (de)evolved to just doing catering... Kills me that I never made it to their Ybor restaurant, because supposedly the place was mind-blowing...

              On a blog someone wrote: "Latam resides in a beautifully preserved, 1914 era, 400-seat basement cantina with a 42-foot marble-and-onyx bar, and its original tin-stamped ceiling."



              1. re: Mild Bill

                Thanks for the link - kind of makes you want to throw a catered party!

                The friend who originally introduced me to Latam's was from Boston. I guess his pronunciation stuck in my head!

                Perhaps the blog writer had a few too many mojitos...