10 Killer Cuban Sandwiches That’ll Have You Wanting More

The much-loved ham and cheese sandwich has made it in Tucson, with a twist.

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.

Cafe a la C’Art / Carte Blanche Catering

150 N. Main Ave.
Cuban sandwiches from Carte Blanche Catering (Credit: Cafe a la C'Art / Carte Blanche Catering on Facebook)

Cuban sandwiches from Carte Blanche Catering (Credit: Cafe a la C’Art / Carte Blanche Catering on Facebook)

The Cuban Sandwich from Cafe a la C’Art features shaved roasted pork, Black Forest Ham, sweet pickles, chipotle aioli, and provolone on a freshly baked roll. The sandwich is also available at its sister company Carte Blanche, so you can order piles for your next party.

For more information, visit cafealacarttucson.com.

Cup Cafe

311 E. Congress St.
Cubano sandwich at Cup Cafe (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Cubano sandwich at Cup Cafe (Credit: Jackie Tran)

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 Latin Caribbean Food Truck

Mobile food truck
El Fidel Cuban sandwich at DC Jumbie Latin Caribbean Food Truck (Credit: DC Jumbie Latin Caribbean Food Truck on Facebook)

El Fidel Cuban sandwich at DC Jumbie Latin Caribbean Food Truck (Credit: DC Jumbie Latin Caribbean Food Truck on Facebook)

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.

Fini’s Landing

5689 N. Swan Rd.
El Cubano Torta from Fini's Landing (Credit: Fini's Landing)

El Cubano Torta from Fini’s Landing (Credit: Fini’s Landing)

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.

Gigi’s Mexican Peruvian Fusion

Mobile food truck — check Gigi’s Fusion Food Truck on Facebook for their current location.
El Cubano Torta at Gigi's Mexican Peruvian Fusion (Credit: Gigi's Mexican Peruvian Fusion on Facebook)

El Cubano Torta at Gigi’s Mexican Peruvian Fusion (Credit: Gigi’s Mexican Peruvian Fusion on Facebook)

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.

Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market

11 S. Sixth Ave.
Johnny Cubano and Gunslinger Burger at Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

Johnny Cubano and Gunslinger Burger at Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

The Johnny Cubano features ham, shredded pork shoulder, pickles, roasted jalapeños, spicy dijonnaise, and Swiss cheese. Enjoy it with their sweet potato fries.

For more information, visit gibsonsmarket.com.

Maynards Market & Kitchen

400 N. Toole Ave.
Cubano at Maynards (Photo courtesy of Maynards Market & Kitchen)

Cubano at Maynards (Photo courtesy of Maynards Market & Kitchen)

At Maynards Market, the Cubano is features roasted pork, applewood ham, jalapeño, caramelized onion, dill pickle, Gruyere cheese, chimichurri, and dijonnaise on an Amoroso roll, which you might recognize as the bread used on authentic Philly cheesesteaks.

For more information, visit maynardstucson.com.

Prep & Pastry

3073 N. Campbell Ave. • 6450 E. Grant Rd. Ste. 160
Cubano Barrio at Prep & Pastry (Credit: Shannon Dudley)

Cubano Barrio at Prep & Pastry (Credit: Shannon Dudley)

Prep & Pastry’s Cubano Barrio features a combination of carnitas, Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese, bread-and-butter pickles, lettuce, red onion, chipotle mayo, and stone-ground mustard.

For more information, visit prepandpastry.com.

Sentinel Peak Brewing Company

4746 E. Grant Rd. • 9155 E. Tanque Verde Rd. #177
The Cubano at Sentinel Peak Brewing Company (Credit: Sentinel Peak Brewing Company)

The Cubano at Sentinel Peak Brewing Company (Credit: Sentinel Peak Brewing Company)

Pair a pint of Dew Point Dunkel with The Cubano at Sentinel Peak. 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 sentinelpeakbrewing.com.

Viva El Caribe Restaurant & Lounge

1929 E. Grant Rd.
Cuban sandwich at Viva El Caribe Restaurant & Lounge (Credit: Viva El Caribe Restaurant & Lounge on Facebook)

Cuban sandwich at Viva El Caribe Restaurant & Lounge (Credit: Viva El Caribe Restaurant & Lounge on Facebook)

Viva El Caribe keeps its Cuban sandwich as a traditional classic with pork, ham, swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity, as the ratio of ingredients is just right for mouth magic.

Keep up with Viva El Caribe Restaurant & Lounge on Facebook.

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.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.

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