Judging from the sandwich options below, President Obama might have lifted America’s embargo on Cuba because he’s less interested in nuclear subs and more interested in good sub sandwiches. The handheld meal options hailing from the Pearl of Antilles offer a wide variety of sweet, savory, and spicy options that are sure to please any palate. Our island neighbor knows exactly what to put between two pieces of bread, so let’s get started with the one you probably know already…
The granddaddy—excuse me, “abuelo”—of all Cuban sandwiches is this take on a ham and cheese, which has become an iconic classic both of the eponymous island and the city of Miami. Made popular by the cigar rollers that travelled freely between Cuba and Florida, this classic consists of Serrano ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese and dill pickles slathered in yellow mustard on Cuban bread. Every bit as robust and tangy as the cigars that came out of Miami factories all those years ago, the Cuban is still a flavorful feast for anyone that wants a bite.
A close cousin (or “primo”) of the Cuban, the Medianoche differs only in that it is made on soft egg yolk bread instead of the typical crumbly Cuban bread. The name Medianoche is Spanish for “Midnight,” giving you a hint at the time this club-goer favorite should typically be ordered. In other words, it’s the Havana equivalent of driving through Taco Bell after a night of heavy drinking.
This delicious take on a hamburger doesn’t do away with beef, but it does add 25% pork or chorizo to the meat mixture, along with bread crumbs and seasoning. Shoestring fries and cuban bread soak up the juices from this unique patty, but typical burger fixings like lettuce, onions, or spiced ketchup can be added if you like. And be sure to wash it down with the traditional accompaniment, a batido de trigo, which is a milkshake made with puffed wheat—i.e. Honey Smacks.
Another late night favorite, the Elena Ruz is the best turkey sandwich since a Thanksgiving leftover special. Instead of gravy and cranberry sauce, though, one slice of bread is covered in cream cheese and the other is covered in strawberry jam. The first person to order this was a young socialite named Elena Cruz, who explained the kooky-sounding recipe to chefs at an all-night dinner. From that point on she would order it every time she came in, referring to it using her name and eventually helping the sweet and savory sandwich catch on.
If you thought that chorizo was good with eggs, then you should sink your teeth into a Choripan. It’s not going to win any style competitions, but it’s hard to argue with a sausage sliced down the middle and served on a soft white baguette. The simplicity of this classic is its greatest strength, and its name is even a combination of “chorizo” and “pan” (Spanish for “bread”), meaning you’ll never forget the recipe for this winning combo.