Miami's Best Cuban Sandwiches: Getting Creative With Variations On The Traditional

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The Cuban sandwich. Just the mention la isla's one-time staple makes salivary glands go into overdrive. Its simple ingredients -- pork, ham, cheese, mustard, Cuban bread and pickles -- make for a surprisingly complex flavor.

But there is a plethora of ways to prepare

and serve the Cuban. Some prefer slices of ham, while others shred pork

legs to provide the literal meat of the sandwich. Some use the

traditional Swiss cheese, while others even top the sandwich with brie.

Miami, being basically an extension of Cuba, has plenty of

places that have added their own touch on the Cuban mainstay.

Here are some of the best this city has to offer.

5. Tinta y Cafe
The self-described "coffee house y mas" keeps patrons happy and coming

back with 13 different sandwiches de la patria, Tinta's

take on the traditional Cuban sandwich features the usual ingredients

of ham, pork, cheese, pickles and mustard. Selections vary according to

the meat -- usually ham, pork and/or turkey -- and type of bread. La noche

entera ($6.50 small, $8.50 regular) is served on sweet bread and the guajiro ($6.50, $8.75) features ham, Swiss

cheese and Tinta's special mojo de la casa sauce. Other than variations

on the Cuban, Tinta y Cafe also features a delectable sandwich called el

gallego ($6.50, $9.25), which includes cantimpalo (cured chorizo Spanish sausage) and

manchego, a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk

of Manchega sheep.

4. Padrino's


story of the Padrino family reads much like the quintessential Cuban

exile success story, and their restaurant right on the Broward County line in Hallandale just a few blocks from the ocean oozes with the quintessential Cuban taste. First

opened in Hialeah at the height of the Cuban exodus in 1976, the restaurant eventually expanded to three Broward locations and a popular

Orlando bistro. Here the most popular variation on the Cuban sandwich is

the lechon asado ($6.95), a type of Cuban-style marinated roast pork with

grilled onions. They also have the traditional Cuban ($5.95), served with ham,

sliced roast pork, swiss cheese and pickles, and the media noche ($5.95) on a

golden egg roll.

Kareem Shaker
3. Versailles


into this well-known Calle Ocho hangout, you'd think they were giving

away food. Patrons -- tourists and locals alike -- pack it near full capacity at all times of the

day. Not much has changed here since this dineresque gathering place

became the social center for Cuban exiles in June of 1971. They

still serve a wide selection of sandwiches, omelets, salads and soups

that centers around the Cuban sandwich. What they proclaim as "our

famous Cuban Sandwich" ($5.95) is sweet ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese on a

toasted Cuban bread with mustard and pickles. The Calle Ocho special ($7.95)

adds turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomatoes and the "Versailles Especial" ($7.50)

tosses Spanish sausage into the mix. You can sit at one of the over 100

tables or just grab a bite at the lunch counter, which is often lined

with sociable patrons.

2. Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop

is no secret here -- most anyone who has even drives by Enriqueta's knows

it serves one of the best Cuban sandwiches not just in Miami, but on

the entire planet. Current owner, Jose Luis Pla, drew inspiration for

the menu from the cooking styles of his native Matanzas, Cuba. The Cuban

here ($5.75) features many variations Some folks order the midnight Cuban, which serves

ham & roast pork on a slightly sweeter bread and is topped with

papitas (shoestring potato fries) mustard, mozzarella, mayonnaise and a

thinly sliced pair of pickle strips. Enriqueta's is also known for its

delicious breakfast selections, which they serve all day.

Kareem Shaker
1. Bin No. 18


does Bin No. 18 top our list of highly esteemed Cuban sandwiches?

Simply nowhere does more go into the traditional Cuban staple for a mere $6.95.

Chef/owner Alfredo Patino, the former chef at the South Beach

Ritz-Carlton, opened this self-described "European roadside" cafe in 2004

and introduced what he called the deconstructed Cuban sandwich - an open face miracle on ciabatta bread called pan tumaca that originates in

northern Spain. The bread is prepared by toasting it, then rubbing

garlic, olive oil and fresh tomato on the inside. The front legs of the

pigs roast six hours in mojo sauce and onions before being shredded into

thin strips. The resulting meat is put on the tumaca with French triple

cream (creamy brie) and baked, served with a delectable fig and port wine

reduction sauce and dijon cream sauce. Customers often add sriracha. Known for its wine selection, Bin No. 18 also

features daily specials; Tuesday its 50 percent off wine bottles, Monday

$6 mussels and Wednesday free champagne from 7 to 9 p.m. If you want to

avoid a wait, make sure nothing is happening at the nearby Adrienne Arsht


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