The beauty of a Cuban sandwich lies in its simplicity: A classic version consists of just ham, slow-roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard pressed between two slices of thick Cuban bread. It’s long been a staple dish within Miami’s Cuban community, and the key to an exceptional variant lies in the preparation of those core ingredients. The best sandwiches often include pork that’s been marinated for hours (or days), and bread that’s baked in-house. There are plenty of places in Miami to get one, so who should you trust? We asked a few local food experts for their recommendations.
Sanguich De Miami is a Bib Gourmand-recognized restaurant that’s amassed a loyal following since opening in 2017 as a shipping container with a walk-up window. The restaurant now has a permanent location (only three blocks from the original spot) where lines regularly form for its delicious Cuban sandwiches. Gio Gutierrez — the talent behind Chat Chow TV, a video podcast that highlights the food scene in Miami (and beyond) — sings the restaurant’s praises. “At Sanguich in Little Havana, you’ll find the best sandwiches made with brined ham, slow-roasted lechon that’s marinated in garlic and spices, melted Swiss cheese, thin-sliced pickles and house-made mustard on local Cuban bread. The sandwiches are lightly brushed with lard and get pressed down to a juicy, crispy perfection before being sliced diagonally for the ultimate bite.”
2057 SW 8th St. (map)
Another Bib Gourmand spot, Tinta y Cafe in Coral Gables is a homey little restaurant with big flavors. The family-owned establishment is a tribute to typical lunch counter fare: croquetas, cafecito and, of course, Cuban sandwiches, which are made fresh on the spot with only local ingredients and bread baked in-house. “Besides having great coffee, pastries, salads and soups, they have one of the best Cuban sandwiches in town,” says George Arango, also known as Mr. Eats 305. “At Tinta y Cafe, there’s no wifi, so you can fully enjoy the company and food. This is a spot that I love recommending to people because as many times as I have visited, the Cuban sandwiches are fresh and consistently fantastic.”
1315 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Coral Gables (map)
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Garcia grew up in Hialeah, and similar to her father, who was a chef in Cuba, she shares her love of food and recipes with her readers. Like many other Miami restaurants, Caja Caliente started off as a food truck in 2016 before opening its first brick-and-mortar location in Coral Gables (they also now have a second location in Wynwood). So what makes their sandwiches special? As Garcia says, “The Caja Cubano is new to Caja Caliente, but it’s absolutely delicious. They use homemade lechon in the sandwich, which elevates the flavor. Every time I’ve gotten one, it’s consistent and so flavorful. They don’t skimp on the meat or cheese, which is something so many other places do.”
1900 NE Miami Ct. (map)
Little Havana’s La Esquina Del Pan Con Bistec is known for its steak sandwiches (made with thinly sliced steak, caramelized onions and crispy potatoes) and its hearty Cuban sandwiches. Originally founded in 1966 by Alberto Suarez, the restaurant changed ownership in 2011 to Gabriel Gaviria, but the restaurant continues to churn out top-notch Cuban sandwiches, which are sold to hungry lunch crowds every day. Peggy Merkus, longtime Miami resident and award-winning private chef of Merkus Kitchen, counts this as one of her favorite takes on the recipe. “The highlight of the Cuban sandwiches here is the bread,” she says. “It’s so soft, and they build the sandwich with just enough of each ingredient. Some places will overload their sandwiches, but here it’s a perfect balance, and every bite is mouthwatering.”
For a no-frills but delicious dining experience, Las Olas Cafe in Miami Beach serves empanadas and tamales alongside an excellent Cuban sandwich. If you’re in the area, pull up to the walk-up window for hot tostones and the warm, friendly service that has kept people coming back for years. “We love Las Olas Cafe in Miami Beach,” says Alexandra Mesa, half of the duo behind the digital media account The Miami Menu, which showcases the best of Miami’s food and drinks scene. “Las Olas Cafe offers traditional Cuban sandwiches as well as fresh-squeezed juices and empanadas,” she says. “We recommend dining in for the most authentic experience, but you can also order from the walk-up window. And don’t forget to order a cafecito.”
644 6th St, Miami Beach (map)
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