I have a personal bias against Doral. Maybe it's the fact that I lived there for 12 years or that my parents made the move at a time when the most exciting dining options were Hooters and Tony Roma's. Today, however, Doral is Venezuelan foodie heaven, with arepa and cachapa offerings everywhere you turn.
But take your time to peruse the back streets (or escape the horrendous traffic) and you might find something you weren't bargaining for: an Islas Canarias croqueta sandwich sharing baguette space with salami and provolone. The place is eCafe, and the astounding creation is the Go H.A.M.
Perched next to a wholesale cell-phone and accessories store is a window counter under the moniker eCafe, which is short for Eclectic Cafe. Mikey Alvarez's first foray into food, eCafe is a hip-hop-inspired gourmet sandwich and cold-pressed juice shop.
Prior to making sandwiches named for dead rappers and Queen B, Alvarez was in real estate. But having grown up around relatives in the restaurant biz (his grandfather owned Mi Habana), he's always had a passion for it. "My mom was somewhat jaded by it, though, and never wanted me to get into it," he says. "It's a 24-hour job, really."
After his mom passed away four years ago, Alvarez decided he needed a change, so he set out for San Francisco, where he worked at eco-gourmet salad bar Mixt Greens. His original plan was to do something similar in Miami because he thinks the city lacks good salads, but instead he decided to use his Cuban heritage, travels to France and Italy, and Haitian girlfriend to make his first concept something more Magic City-appropriate.
Open for breakfast and lunch (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), eCafe proffers a small and succinct menu. Guava and cheese pastries, ham croquetas from Islas Canarias, pan de bono, and a Nutella croissant are all suitable for breakfast and fitting for the surrounding industrial area. Freshly squeezed orange juice ($5), a shot of ginger ($2.50), natural smoothies ($5), and cold-pressed juices ($7) are fairly priced, healthful alternatives. Try the Roots, made with apple, beets, carrot, ginger, and lemon. After a night of drinking, it will bring you back to life.
Then go for one of the greatest hits (or specialty sandwiches), which are akin to La Sandwicherie's subs. They include the Lucky Luciano (prosciutto di parma, fresh mozzarella, mesclun, and tomatoes); Turkey Brieyonce (sliced turkey breast, Brie, spinach, and red onion); It's All About the Veggies (choice of greens and all vegetables); and the Notorious BBQ. The last is a biggie indeed, stacked with short rib, plantain jam, cornichons, Haitian pikliz (white cabbage, carrot vinegar, and habanero), and homemade spicy guava-habanero barbecue sauce. You'll want to ask for a bottle of the sauce, because it's the funk.
The greatest hit of all time, however, is undoubtedly the Go H.A.M. ($10), which packs golden spheres of ham croquetas alongside provolone cheese, salami, romaine, tomato, onion, and banana peppers on sliced baguette.
If you're wondering how Islas Canarias croquetas have made it into a sandwich in Doral, the answer is pretty simple. "I've known [Islas Canarias'] Jon [Andrade] for a really long time, and one day he said we should put croquetas in one of the sandwiches." The rest is history. It's topped with a house-made French vinaigrette dubbed "That Sauce" because of the 2 Chainz song -- "It's that sauce, it's that dressing." The song might just be playing as you're going ham and squeezing more of that sauce onto your sandwich.
You can also make your own sammie, because as the menu best puts it: "99 problems but a 'wich ain't one." Or stay healthy with one of the salads (caprese, caesar, salmon, and a variety of greens). Prices are reasonable, with nothing exceeding $10, and delivery and takeout are available.
If I still lived in Doral, eCafe might just be my new favorite sub shop. I'll just have to settle for it whenever I visit my parents.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha