DCFoodies.com In D.C., The Only Thing More Elusive Than Statehood Is A Good Cubano - DCFoodies.com

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Jun 08, 2011

Comments

charlie

Umm, what about thaat place in Farragut West? And out on lee highway?

Nice to know about Bayou, though.

Drew

I tried to hit every place I could find, but that's a fair point, Charlie. If you give me the names of the those places, I'll check them out.

Ed

How about Cuban Corner in Rockville???? Real cubans there!

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-cuban-corner-rockville

jackie

wait a minute!!!MOJITOS & TAPAS in NOVA has the BEST CUBAN SANDWICH hands down...you gotta try it!!they've been in business 5 years and its AWESOME! 45 minutes west of DC

Drew

Thanks Ed. I've heard good things about Cuban Corner, but ultimately decided it was a bit out of my range, though the same could be said about Burtonsville. The next time I'm in the area, I'll stop in and try the Cubano.

Jakie, thanks for the tip. Mojitos & Tapas is further out than I wanted to go for this story. But if I can, I'll check it out.

charlie

Havana Cafe -- in International Square

Caribbean Grill on Lee Highway and George Mason.

Drew

Thanks Charlie, I'll check them out.

Carl

http://www.hot995.com/pages/hottys/index.html

Colin

As someone who spends a month or two out of every year in Tampa (my wife is a born and raised Tampan, and yes, she insists that that is the correct term) I loved this post. I tend to eat several Cubanos a week when I'm down there, and sometimes it's one a day. A couple things I thought I'd add:

--The Cubano actually doesn't come from Cuba or Miami; it's a Tampan original. It's the product of the intermingling between the Cuban, Spanish, and Italian immigrants working in Ybor. Which is why...

--... a true Cubano should have Genoa salami in addition to the ham and roast pork. The Cubans gave it the ham and the bread, the Spaniards the pork, and the Italians the salami. You'll never find salami on a Cubano in Miami, but the good ones in Tampa never skip it. When they get pressed, the fat from the salami runs into the rest of the meat, and the result is sandwich nirvana.

--The best Cubano I've ever had is at The Museum Cafe in Homosassa. I've eaten all over Tampa, and none of them match up. It's well worth the 45 minute drive north. Try it the next time you're in the area!

--If anyone ever finds real Cuban bread in the DC area, I'd give up a vital organ for it...

Drew

Thanks Colin! You're right about the Cubano's Tampa origins and the salami business. However, it's nearly impossible to find a place in Tampa these days that adds salami, so it's understandable that people forget about the ingredient. It seems like it's disappearing from the sandwich. That said, I've never visited the museum in Homosassa, but I will. And God love you're wife, but tell her to stop using the word "Tampan." It's almost as bad as "foodie." We're from Tampa. Let's leave it at that.

Colin

I hope I didn't come off as a know-it-all... I just really, REALLY love those sandwiches. I've had a lot of great sandwiches--banh mi and roast pork hoagies are two of my regular cravings--but nothing matches a good Cuban. They're so simple, and I've never understood why they haven't migrated well. I'm glad to know that someone else out there shares my frustration!

Raisa

There is a new place in Fairfax City called Pablitos. It is on Main St. in a strip mall next to Americana grocery. As a Cuban I believe it has the most authentic Cuban sandwiches you can get in the area. That being said, until they can find a baker who bakes Cuban bread, the true Sandwiche Cubano will be elusive. You must go to Miami (or Tampa) for the real deal.

Drew

I've been reasonably impressed with the cubano at Mio, a pan-latin sort of place on Vermont near McPherson Sq.

JD

My brother! Thank you for your research, Drew, can't wait to try.

First and best cubano I ever had (never been to Tampa or Miami) was in NYC - little joint on 9th Ave around 18th st. (Is that Chelsea?) Bread was rubbed with garlic on inside. Amazing. (I'm anti-mayo on this sandwich. You?)

Had a terrible cubano made by a guy rumored to be Cuban in Old Town Alexandria. Just awful, starting with the pork. Great food starts with great ingredients. Is this a difficult concept?

Drew

Thanks JD. You'd think this was the most complicated sandwich ever conceived based on all the bad examples out there, but it really is just a ham sandwich. If you like the addition of garlic, you have to try the Cubano and mojo at Cuba de Ayer in Burtonsville. Spectacular. I'm Ok with a little mayo (which isn't uncommon), but the mustard has to be prominent. Like I said about Fast Gourmet, they mucked up an otherwise good Cuban sandwich by slathering it with too much mayo.

Kelly (Hungry with Children)

Thank you for not giving lip service to the version at Cuba Libre - it's just awful. How do you put Cuba in the name and then serve such a crappy, overpriced sandwich?

Molly

I've not had the sandwich at Cuban Corner, but their other food is good. Nothing replaces La Teresita, though (I used to live in Tampa). BTW, if you want the best tres leches cake (although they call it cuatro leches), go to La Caraquena in Falls Church. Amazing!

Don

It's horribly unfair, but I can never take Cieba's cuban influence seriously. During my first visit there a server asked if we'd like some post-dinner coffee or desert. When I said I'd love a cafe con leche she said "That's with the caramel? I don't think we have that."

The Local Blogger

Oh, goodie! I'm heading to DC in a couple days and will definitely check out these places. The Cubano's looks amazing.

http://thelocalblogger.blogspot.com/

Drew

Thanks for the comment Don. Cieba isn't a strictly Cuban restaurant, but as a restaurant that specializes in Latin cuisine, the server probably should have known what cafe con leche is. When I decided to check it out for this piece, I thought it was too high end to make a decent Cuban. Obviously, I was wrong. That said, the best Cubans you'll find in Tampa or Miami (or New Orleans, for that matter) are at much simpler eateries. But if you're looking for a good local Cuban, you really should give Cieba a try.

Nina

Drew,

I am from Tampa, and your article is SPOT-ON. I stopped ordering Cuban sandwiches in DC altogether, because it is simply too painful.

I wish there was a place to find some solid Cuban bread...maybe with some palm fronds stuck inside...mmm...

Ellinida_DC

Drew,
I'm glad you gave a shout out to Fast Gourmet. When I saw the title of your post, I agreed that it's hard to find a good Cubano in DC and I immediately thought of Fast Gourmet!

Ellinida (ellinidadc.blogspot.com)

Raul (ilivetotravel in Twitter)

You rock! As a son of Cubans who grew up eating Cuban sandwiches in PR, this is a phenomenal writeup of choices in DC. I agree w the guy from New Orleans - a real Cubano uses yellow mustard though an alternative could be just as tasty - that would not be the point to a purist :) And we Cubans are nothing if not argumentative!! Great job!

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