A little menu, maybe four inches by four inches, was left on my mailbox last week. It read, "Bocadillo Clandestino Lunch Menu" and had a Keith Haring-like drawing on the front that explained the process via images: sandwich, love, bicycle, happy people. Below it was useful information: "$10 Sandwich * Cash Only * Free Delivery." Plus the phone/text number (305-773-8284) and website (bocaclan.com), where you can see photos of the sandwich du jour and place your order.
The little menu opened up to reveal black-and-white photos of each day's offering, with a description of the ingredients. For example, on Monday, April 2, the Freetown sandwich was maple-glazed turkey, fresh mozzarella, vine-ripe tomato, kalamata olives, and basil pesto on pressed ciabatta. That's the choice -- love it or leave it. No sides, no beverages, no fuss. I called yesterday, which featured the "Light Load": a falafel in fluffy pita bread loaded with fresh, ripe avocado, radish slices, alfalfa sprouts, roasted garlic hummus, and tahini dressing. Awhile later, it was delivered to my door by Anita Bonita, one of the partners and "sandwich artistas."
Anita is a native New Yorker, while her partner, Black Mamba, hails from Montreal. They started conceptualizing this secret-sandwich delivery-by-bicycle business last October and began the current Monday-through-Friday, noon-to-4 schedule in March. "We're passionate about food, we both really like Miami, and we wanted to do something that allowed us to live the way we enjoy living," Miss Mamba explains.
The sandwich bread, often ciabatta, is baked daily by a local bakery. "We try to use as much local produce as possible. We make the menu up according to what's around and what's in season and take it from there." The sandwich for today, April 11, is the Norwegian Wood: roasted cauliflower, cucumber, bean sprouts, cilantro-carrot slaw, roasted eggplant ghanoush, and tahini dressing on grilled ciabatta. Tomorrow will bring a WTF of zucchini fritta, roasted garlic-white bean spread, and spring greens on grilled ciabatta. This week features all vegan sandwiches, but usually you'll find sliced meat and sliced cheese compositions as well as vegetarian. I'm looking forward to the next appearance of the Nola (fried green tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and lemon-garlic aioli).
The falafel, by the way, was delicious -- the spheres lighter than usual and the vegetables distinguishing it from the typical version (no tomatoes and cucumber in this one). It could have been a bit warmer, but Mamba explained that today was the most hectic day yet.
"Everybody ordered within 30 minutes," she said. Upon the suggestion of aluminum foil to retain heat, I was reminded that foil "isn't environmentally the best thing to use." They wrap the sandwiches, quite beautifully, in wax paper and then in craft paper, tied with a string -- "to reduce waste and allow you to recycle when possible."
Bocadillo delivers anywhere in South Beach, including to the sands of the beach itself. They make only 50 sandwiches per day, so it's a good idea to order early. Phase two of their plan is to open a small storefront. "The bulk of our business would still be delivery by bicycle, but we'd be able to offer a few house sandwiches and maybe a rotating daily sandwich. There would be a pick-up window and maybe some tables and chairs outside." They're looking around the Purdy Avenue neighborhood. At that point, Mamba figures they'll be able to up their daily sandwich count to 200.
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The best way to sample a Bocadillo sandwich would be to order one, but you have another option: This Friday from 7 to 9 p.m., Anita Bonita, Black Mamba, and likely their third wheel, Italian Stallion, will cater a free "Art Groupie" event at ArtCenter/South Florida at 800 Lincoln Rd. There promises to be art, philanthropy, and "superyummy sammie samples" from the new underground secret-sandwich team (as a result, they won't be delivering sandwiches for lunch that day).
"This is our seventh week, and it's just getting better and better."
Guess you can say the secret is out.