New Orleans is known for its po' boy (and muffuletta), Philadelphia fiercely defends its cheesesteak and Maine's culinary claim to fame is the Lobster Roll. Tampa's claim? The Cuban sandwich.
The Cuban sandwich was originally called the mixto - ham, roast pork, swiss cheese, mustard - and made for Ybor City cigar workers. Sicilians and immigrants from other parts of Italy joined Spanish and Cuban immigrants in the cigar factories, and Genoa salami was added, transforming the mixto into Cuban sandwich. But it's the bread from La Segunda Central Bakery that makes an authentic Cuban.
The Great Debate
The City of Tampa recently proclaimed it the city's official sandwich. The move prompted cries from Miami in objection. NPR had its Tampa (WUSF) and Miami (WLRN) radio stations state their claim, and more than 7,000 NPR listeners helped settle the battle - naming Tampa the winner of the "original Cuban sandwich" bragging rights.
Take A Bite of the Cuban Sandwich
Come to Ybor City to taste the Cuban sandwiches for yourself! Graze your way down 7th Avenue and try each restaurant's version of the Cuban sandwich.
1802 E. 7th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605 • (813) 248-3834
Columbia Restaurant • www.columbiarestaurant.com
2117 E. 7th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605 • (813) 248-4961
Sandwiches are made with the original 1915 recipe of Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. using the same proportions of each ingredient, layered on top of one another with the Cuban bread brushed with butter on top, pressed to a crispy finish.
Gaspar's Grotto • www.gasparsgrotto.com
1805 E. 7th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605 • (813) 248-5900
Named among the best sandwiches by Southern Living magazine in 2009 & awarded 1st place the 2012 Cuban Sandwich Festival's non-traditional category
Green Iguana - Ybor • www.greeniguana.com
1708 E. 7th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605 • (813) 248-9555
King Corona Cigars • www.kingcoronacigars.com
1523 E. 7th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605 • (813) 241-9109
La Tropicana Restaurant
1822 E. 7th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605 • (813) 247-4040
Named among the best sandwiches by Southern Living magazine in 2009
Tampa Bay Brewing Company • www.tampabaybrewingcompany.com
1600 E. 8th Avenue, A-123 • (813) 247-1422
The Stone Soup Company • www.stonesoupco.com
1517 7th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33650 • (813) 247-7687
Awarded 2nd place the 2012 Cuban Sandwich Festival's traditional category and 1st place in the 2013 festival's popular vote
The best Cuban sandwiches are taste-tested each May at the Cuban Sandwich Festival in Ybor City's Centennial Park. Each summer, Cuban sandwich-related art is displayed for the "Cuban Sandwich Show," organized by the Artists and Writers Group. In August 2013, volunteers created the World's Largest Cuban Sandwich, a 49-foot version of the Tampa delicacy, beating their own record of 36-feet, set in August 2012.
Learn to Make the Cuban Sandwich
Cuban Sandwich Ingredients:
- Roast pork
- Swiss cheese
- Cuban bread