Neighborhood Joints

Cane Á Sucre: Gourmet Sandwiches and Cuban Coffee in North Miami

When the Vega brothers opened their first Cane Á Sucre location on the border of midtown and the Design District, the year was 2001 and the neighborhoods were nowhere near as happening as they are today. But as the two areas began to flourish, rent prices began rising, so in 2011, the siblings moved their gourmet sandwich shop to downtown North Miami.

Their Cuban-French eatery is now located on NE 125th Street, right near the Museum of Contemporary Art and myriad funky art galleries and furniture boutiques. In 2013, the Vegas opened another shop, in downtown Miami, but they sold it a year ago in a franchise agreement. The brothers aren't involved with the day-to-day management of the second location; however, the recipes and concept are virtually the same as those at the North Miami outpost.

Sinuhé Vega, an artist who oversees the restaurant's "creative pulse," jokes that Cane Á Sucre moved from one developing artistic neighborhood to another. He says he and his brother, chef Michael Vega, are kind of like pioneers when it comes to their location choices and the food they serve.

That food is a mix of Cuban and French cuisine, in homage to the Vegas' mixed heritage. Cane Á Sucre (meaning "sugarcane" in French) is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and serves sandwiches, salads, soups, burgers, and desserts. Everything is made from scratch, except the French baguette dough they receive frozen from France. The chicken is free-range and hormone-free, and their beef is 100 percent organic from Harris Ranch in California.

Chef Mike has worked in fine-dining restaurants in Switzerland, France, and the Caribbean. He was also the top toque at Uva 69 Restaurant & Lounge on Biscayne Boulevard at 69th Street, a Latin American/French eatery the brothers owned until a couple of years ago, when the space was taken over by Via Verdi Cucina Rustica. But Mike's true passion is making food that's approachable and affordable. And indeed, the most expensive item on Cane Á Sucre's menu is a tuna burger for $12.50, while a whole sandwich ranges from $7.50 to $9.50. 
If you arrive during lunch, expect to find the place bustling with other customers, many of them taking their food to-go. Here, you order at the counter and wait for the food to be delivered to your table. Sinuhé says the reason Cane Á Sucre has so many repeat customers is because the staff is friendly and efficient, and the food is tasty yet well priced. One man says he comes at least twice a week and likes this place because they really pay attention to the details. 

Such details include an excellent creamy French dressing on the salads that accompany every sandwich order, as well as delicious toasted French bread. Bread like this is hard to come by in Miami, and it makes sense they receive their dough frozen from France.

Sinuhé says one of their most popular items is the Cubano sandwich, featuring slow-roasted and shredded natural pork, sliced old-fashioned ham, pepper jack cheese, caramelized onion, Dijon mustard, and house aioli on French baguette ($4.50 for a half, $8.95 for a whole). If you desire something more French, you can't go wrong with the smoked salmon sandwich stuffed with tomatoes, mixed baby greens, hardboiled eggs, and fresh aioli on whole-wheat baguette. The hardboiled eggs are très français. Other popular items are the Cobb salad ($10.50) and classic burger ($9).

At the end of your meal, you must try a cortadito ($2) or a café con leche ($2.50), because Cane Á Sucre is famous for its Cuban coffee. But be careful — it's mighty strong. "This coffee will keep you up all night," a neighbor says.

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Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.