01 October 2009

I Eat Your Cubans

Sandwiches! Sandwiches are the best, and the best kind of sandwich is the Cuban. If you disagree, I will take you into the Sears parking lot after hours and beat you senseless with a reliable and affordable Kenmore appliance.

The Cuban: pork, ham, cheese, pickles, mustard, tasty bread— HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE IT? For the past year, I've sought out the places in Rochester, NY that make Cuban sandwiches. Here's what I've found, worst to the best, with special thanks to RocWiki for the great local links:

Cheesecake Factory
The first Cuban I ever tried, and technically in Rochester (OK, Pittsford), even though it's a chain restaurant. ANYWAY, OK taste, pretty good bread, all the right ingredients, and yellow mustard? Really? Good to know you can grab one at any Cheesecake Factory, but like any chain, the quality degrades thanks to franchising, and overall, kind of a weak sandwich.

Dinosaur Bar-b-Que
The bun (yeah, I said bun) was warm but not toasted or grilled, the pork was overbearing and soaked in barbecue sauce, the pickles were sweetish instead of dill, and THERE WAS NO MUSTARD! The only thing in life I take seriously is condiments. You have failed me, Dino. Still better than Cheesecake Factory, though, because let's be honest, Dinosaur's BBQ is tasty.

Pellegrino's Deli Cafe
Normally a sub shop, so this Cuban comes on a sub roll. All the ingredients are great, even the added shredded lettuce and onions. Sadly, the bread, being a sub roll, is just too doughy. Probably the best per dollar investment though, especially if you get the small sub for $1 when you buy a large sub special, meaning you can get three meals out of it. Ultimately, tasty enough to ensure I always order a Cuban when I'm at Pellegrino's.

Lovin' Cup
Lovin' Cup calls their Cuban a "Santeria," and they don't do us the service of telling us they mean a Cuban. I had to figure that out myself. OK, my friend Nick told me before I ever went there. Again, no mustard, but the so-called "Cuban sauce" is pretty good. Maybe I was there on an off night, but the sandwich was a little cold. It came out quickly enough, which makes me think it was not entirely finished cooking. Not a bad taste, but not everything I hoped for. Kind of like Obama's promise concerning Gitmo.

The least traditional Cuban on the list, this one included cilantro mayo, avocado and salsa. While I miss the mustard, Dorado makes up for it with the great cilantro mayo and amazing bread. The second best roll, which Dorado calls "Portuguese Bread," and the most unique. I'd go back for the taste, even despite being just barely the most expensive sandwich on the list.

Sticky Lips Pit BBQ
My second favorite Cuban on the list, and the most traditional. The bread is sourdough, but it's fresh and it's grilled, so it tastes great. Everything else is spot on. The ham is top-notch and the pork is slow-cooked. The cheese is melty, the mustard is spicy, and the pickles are garlicky. Everything a Cuban ought to be, but sadly, only available on Wednesdays and only until the run out, which they ALWAYS do. I suggest going for lunch.

Tap & Mallet
I love the Tap & Mallet. Go there even if you don't care about Cuban sandwiches, because they have the best beer selection in town. Go there even if you don't like beer, out of respect for their awesomeness. Their Cuban is the most gourmet on the list and matches Dorado for price, but you get more sandwich. Instead of using shredded pork like every other place, they use a full slab, and the ham is easily the tastiest, smokiest and thickest on the list. Also, the best bread. Just, the best. Go there now.

Finally, I know this is not the normal tone of meatiocrity, but "meat" is in the title, so I'm exploiting that tenuous connection to write these reviews. I regret nothing. If you know of other great Cuban sandwiches, leave a message in the comments, and if I can, I'll eat one and review it.

EDIT: Georgie's has the best cubanos. Click here for the review.


Unknown said...

Try Georgie's on South Clinton. I think they're only available on Saturdays, but they are pretty darn tasty, too.

Unknown said...

Georgie's Bakery and Cafe 857 S. Clinton has the Absolute Best Cubano in Rochester. Go there - they have 'em most days 241-3987

Unknown said...

Matt— Per Chris's suggestion, I am way ahead of you. But also in agreement. Georgie's is the best. (http://www.meatiocrity.com/2010/07/i-still-eat-your-cubans-and-i-like-it.html)