Dec 9, 2021 - Food and Drink

The Cuban takes a turn in the spotlight

Illustration of a Cuban sandwich under a spotlight.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Cuban sandwich, born right here in Ybor City as a delicious and easy lunch for cigar factory workers, is having a moment.

What's happening: The core makings of a mixto — ham, salami, Swiss, pickles and mustard — are popping up on menus across the country as chefs get more creative with our signature sandwich.

🥖 Why it matters: If Tampa Bay has a flavor profile, it's the Cuban sandwich, and it's riding a wave of popularity.

Flashback: Traces of the sandwich stretch all the way back to the Taíno tribe in Cuba, who stuffed fish and bird inside two thin slices of casabe bread. It's been in a state of transformation since.

  • The Cuban as we know it rose with the cigar industry after several immigrant communities added their own ingredients — Italians added salami, for instance, while the Spaniards brought the pork.

What's new: Local chefs have been toying with the Cuban for years, and we've noted a few creative dishes:

  • The Independent served loaded Cuban fries at the Gasparilla Music Festival that were a knockout.
  • People are raving about the Cuban sandwich sticks on the bar menu at the new Flor Fina at Ybor City's Hotel Haya, which serves the Cuban both Miami and Tampa-style.

📬 Seen any interesting iterations? Hit reply.

Mellow Mushroom's Wild in Havana pie, with shredded pork, ham, salami, Swiss, mozerella and a mustard/mayo sauce.
Mellow Mushroom's Wild in Havana pie, with shredded pork, ham, salami, Swiss, mozerella and a mustard/mayo sauce. Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios
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