A Cuban sandwich has a very specific, wonderful flavor. Health-wise, eating a sandwich with roasted pork and ham in it is crazy, but some people eat bacon every single day, so I frequently indulge in a Cuban. And if that statement seems logically suspect, then consider this: along with the slow-roasted pork and sliced ham, a Cuban sandwich has pickle, mustard and Swiss cheese in pressed bread similar to French or Italian. This is what happiness tastes like. And if you want a sandwich that goes with a glass of red wine, this works. So, screw logic.
A Cuban is toasted in a press until the surface of the bread is slightly crispy, the cheese is melted and the sandwich is compressed. Put together with skill and attention to detail, it’s like a rich man’s grilled ham and cheese. The ham should be soft textured and slightly sweet. But the pork, slow-roasted in a citrus and garlic marinade, is what gives this sandwich a kick.
A Cuban is typically ruined when people move too far away from the formula. If it’s not Cuban bread, it should be Italian or French. There shouldn’t be greens or tomatoes on it. Some places will try to get away with using thinly sliced deli pork and that doesn’t work. Dallas has plenty of places serving up takes on this classic, some more or less authentic, most of them pretty good. Here's a sampling:
1. Uncle Uber’s
2713 Commerce St., 214-653-8237
Uncle Uber's is in Deep Ellum, so it's the perfect spot for anyone hit with a Cuban craving while out listening to a little music. The fries that come on the side are the best for miles, with perfect texture and bold seasoning. Plus, they come with Secret Sauce, one of the best fry dippers ever. This is a sammich shop take on a Cuban sandwich, not the most authentic rendition; so don’t expect the bread to have lard in it. But it hits all the high notes and it’s a beast, enough for two meals. There is a ridiculous amount of meat, and it’s an extra greasy affair, but totally worth it.
2. East Hampton Sandwich Co.
6912 Snider Plaza, 214-363-2888
First of all, there aren’t any good sides here. The homemade potato chips just taste like stale potato chips. Even the “spicy pimento” dip was bland. But most important, this is not a Cuban sandwich. I don’t expect Cuban bread — a small baguette is an acceptable substitute — but ciabatta bread just doesn’t fly. And a spring salad mix doesn't belong on a Cuban sandwich. It also has a “mojo sauce” that tastes a lot like Italian dressing. This sandwich wasn’t gross, but it wasn't a Cuban.
3. C Señor
330 W. Davis St; 214-941-4766
This Cuban food stand in Oak Cliff rules. They have an authentic Cuban sandwich, only bigger, jam-packed with perfectly seasoned roast pork and very reasonably priced. The size guarantees greasy hands for anyone eating it, but otherwise no weaknesses here. Savor the yucca fries with it. I also recommend a café cubano — espresso with raw sugar — while you wait for your food.
4. Cuco’s Sandwich Shop
6650 Glenview Dr; 817-284-1692
If a restaurant with a Cuban sandwich is painted pink, that's a good sign, as far as authenticity goes. This North Richland Hills sandwich shop also has a great selection of Latin groceries. By all means, get the café con leche. It's huge. The maduros are easily some of the best fried sweet plantains in North Texas. The Cuban is perfect. It’s been pressed and cut with great precision, so it doesn't coat hands with grease, and they add a thin slice of salami that complements the flavors incredibly well.
5. Cuban Dulceria International Bakery
2662 N Josey Ln; 972-242-3797
It’s really hard to beat a Cuban served on freshly baked Cuban bread. Yes, there is lard in the bread, but it’s also sweet and simply luxurious. This is a flawless sandwich, the best in DFW, and comparable to what you would find in Miami. Perfectly stacked with every flavor on point and a particularly strong shredded pork game. It’s worth driving all the way out to Carrollton. Don’t miss the guava and cheese pastry (if there are any left) and have a café cubano.
6. Jimmy’s Food Store
4901 Bryan St; 214-823-6180
This is easily the spiciest sandwich on the list — forehead sweat spicy. Instead of pressing the sandwich, it’s wrapped in tin foil and tossed in the oven. It’s a nice hot sandwich, but the bread is a bit chewy in stark contrast to the flakiness one would expect from a Cuban. There is definitely more of an emphasis on ham over pork here, but this Italian grocer’s take on a Cuban is a solid sandwich overall. It’s also difficult to pass on a cannoli for dessert.
7. Havana Café
1152 N Buckner Blvd; 214-660-9611
Havana Café has a solid, authentic Cuban sandwich. The flavor of the ham and pork were surprisingly underwhelming; more than anything I kept noticing the taste of pickle. The maduros were nice as a side, but simply not in the same league as the fried sweet plantains from Cuco’s. Havana Café has great entrees and a fabulous coffee menu in a gorgeous setting, but the Cuban isn’t their strong suit.
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