The ham and cheese sandwich has seen various interpretations from cultures around the world: the croque monsieur from France, the Francesinha from Portugal, Puerto Rico's tripleta, and the Cubano from Florida.
While the Cubano's parent sandwich came from Cuba, the Cubano (Cuban sandwich) as it is known today was created in the late 1800s in Tampa's Ybor City as a result of the booming cigar industry. This created a demand for a convenient lunch for the many Cuban workers.
The traditional Cubano consists of buttered or oiled Cuban bread, yellow mustard, shredded roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese, and dill pickles.
Genoa salami was added by Ybor City's Italian immigrants, some of which were bricklayers that pressed the sandwich between hot bricks. Don't expect salami from a Cubano in Miami, however. Proud Miami citizens consider it blasphemous.
Thankfully, the Cubano has made its way across the country to Tucson in various eateries.
Cup Cafe's Cubano features the more traditional pressed bakery roll, braised pork, smoked ham, and dill pickles, but deviates with Gruyère cheese, caramelized onions, dijon mustard, and chipotle mayo. Jalapeño, cilantro, and fresh lime juice help cut through the fatty ingredients, but ask for a side of mustard for a flavor profile closer to a traditional Cubano.
For more information, visit hotelcongress.com.
DC Jumbie has El Fidel, which features pork slowly roasted in mojo criollo (Cuban sour orange and garlic sauce), ham, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, mayo, and mustard on a grill-pressed sub roll.
Check out their current location and keep up with DC Jumbie Latin Caribbean Food Truck on Facebook.
El Cubano Torta at Fini's Landing has Tucson flair. Barrio Brewing Co. makes Beached Ale exclusively for Fini's, which is used in their aioli and to braise carnitas. Sandwich those two with a torta bun along with Swiss cheese, pickles, pecan-smoked bacon, and cabbage for a satisfying Mexican-Cuban fusion.
For more information, visit finislanding.com.
Pair a pint of Dew Point Dunkel with The Cubano at Firetruck Brewing. The medium-bodied beer complements the slow-roasted shredded pork, ham, and provolone, while the bubbles help contrast the richness with the pickles and stone-ground mustard.
For more information, visit firetruckbrewing.com.
El Cubano at Gigi's doesn't discriminate against bacon. Roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, bacon, and beer mustard are sandwiched between garlic Cuban bread and grill-pressed with a side of sweet potato fries. A side of mojo sauce makes for extra-garlicky dipping.
For more information, visit gigisfusion.com.
To make your own Cuban sandwich, check out this recipe from Tyler Florence at Food Network.
Where's your favorite Cuban sandwich from? Let us know in the comments.
[This article was originally written on August 23, 2016, and most recently updated on August, 23 2021]
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...