What’s the first thing people-in- the-know do when they arrive in the Magic City? Not hit the best Miami beaches. Smart—and hungry— tourists fresh off the plane make a beeline to the nearest Cuban restaurant for a taste of the city’s most famous sandwich. But locals love Cubanos too. There’s nothing like crunching down on toasty bread and juicy pork. What qualifies a Cubano to be considered the best Cuban sandwich in Miami? Is it the ham, the roasted pork or both? Should it call for mustard or is plain better? We’re settling the debate by taste-testing the city’s supposed greatest—from South Beach to Little Havana—and ranking our favorites with help from two bonafide experts: Abuela Ana Torres and Abuelo David Basallo. Warning: These are tough critics!
Best Cuban sandwiches in Miami
Sanguich de Miami dethrones reigning champ, Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop, as Miami’s best Cubano. This cozy Cuban cafe in Little Havana doles out a variety of Cuban sandwiches—media noche, pan con bistec, pan con lechón—but its Cubano is what truly put them on the map. Part of what makes this sandwich so special are the hours of prep that go into making each ingredient before it’s even assembled: the mustard is house-made, the pork is cured in-house, and the bread is baked to Sanguich’s specifications. Once it’s all put together, the Cubano is finished off in la plancha.
Abuelo David says: “Se ve bien, se ve más sencillo y con menos carne—aquí le ponen mucha carne a los sandwiches. Tiene buen sabor y el pan, que es el que lleva, está tostado.” [“It looks good, it looks simpler and with less meat—here (in Miami) they put a lot of meat on the sandwiches. It tastes good and the bread, which is the one a Cubano calls for, is toasted.”
We say: “This is, hands down, the best Cuban sandwich I’ve ever tasted. I agree with Abuelo, the toasted bread really makes it. Plus, the house-made mustard adds the perfect kick of flavor. And despite a serious aversion to pickles, I didn’t pick them out. Yep, even the pickles are good.”
It can be tempting to dismiss this always-packed Wynwood spot as inauthentic or commercial. What do hipsters know about Cuban food? Well, it turns out they know a lot. You’ll regularly find long lines at Enriqueta’s, but the sandwiches are still made to order (and fast!). The original sandwich is still the best, although the Preparado (with two croquettes stuffed inside) and the Doble (with extra pork) are definite crowd-pleasers.
Abuela Ana says: “¡Este sí está rico! [Now here is a good one!] It has a good amount of mustard, which is lo que le da el punto [what gives it that extra something].”
We say: “This one is very cheesy and pickle-y, which I generally avoid, but I love the flavor combination and Enriqueta’s sandwich was exquisito. It was the best!”
This local Cuban chain is known to appeal to acculturated Cubans, thanks in no small part to a low- calorie menu of classics called La Flaca and Cuban-American interpretations of popular dishes such as the Cuban Cobb salad and various flatbreads. What it hasn’t messed with, however, is its Cuban sandwich, which is the real deal.
Abuela Ana says: “This is from Sergio’s? Wow, it’s very complete. It has everything: pork, cheese, ham. It’s my second favorite.”
We say: “Don’t underestimate Sergio’s; this is delicious. I love that it’s wrapped in aluminum foil. It kept the other half warm!”
The original location (one of four Caribes in Miami) is known for its oversize portions, and its Cuban sandwich is no exception. The meats are piled high, plus the Cuban bread is sliced larger than in other restaurants (it’s also about $1 less than the going rate). Come hungry or be prepared to share.
Abuela Ana says: “I don’t see the pork anywhere, solo una lasquita de puerco (just a little slice). It’s all ham, ham, ham!”
We say: “I like how melted the Swiss cheese is, but it’s lacking flavor.”
Kush is the cool Wynwood spot you frequent for burgers, chicken and waffles, gator bites and yes, Cubanos. The corner restaurant actually serves a decent Cuban sandwich, though it strays pretty far from the traditional. Kush’s version is a hoagie roll stuffed with Miami Smokers’ smoked ham and slow-roasted pork and topped with kosher mustard, pickles and melted gruyere cheese. It’s pressed and served with a side of plantain chips and cilantro aioli.
Abuelo David says: “Como pan con carne, éste esta bueno pero no sabe a un sandwich Cubano. Tiene un punto de sal y buen sabor. Es un pan con lechón.” [“As a meat sandwich, this one is good but it does not taste like a Cuban sandwich. It has a good hint of salt and good flavor. It's bread and pork.”]
We say: “This one is meaty, with chunks of tender pork and ham. You can really taste the smokiness in the ham, too. I wouldn’t order this one if I were craving a Cubano but as a pork sandwich, it wins. Bonus points for the side of mariquitas.”
When it comes to Cuban sandwiches, this restaurant likes to bend the rules. Mustard is replaced with the Sarussi’s signature secret sauce, while the bread tastes more Italian than Cuban. Purists be warned: You won’t find a traditional Cubano here, but Abuela AnaTorres you will get a stellar sandwich.
Abuela Ana says: “This is really good, but I don’t know if it’s really a Cuban sandwich because it tastes sazonadito [seasoned].”
We say: “The bread is almost like focaccia, and the secret sauce, with hints of spice and cumin, is incredible.”
Cafe might be a misnomer for this massive Cuban restaurant in Brickell, featuring a stocked bar and the neighborhood’s only true ventanita for cafecito. It boasts an equally extensive menu and more than one type of Cubano. We tried the standard sammie, which, much to our Abuelo’s surprise, was stacked tall with extra meat.
Abuelo David says: “Los sandwiches aquí lo hacen muy grueso. El sandwich, para que uno lo saboreo, debe ser finito y llevar dos o tres lasquitas de jamón. Tiene buen sabor pero el problema es la cantidad. ¡Mira que gordo! Si lo muerdes por un lado, sale por el otro.” [“Cubanos in Miami are made very thick. The sandwich, in order for one to taste it, must be thin and made with two or three small slices of ham. It tastes good but the problem is quantity. Look how thick! If you bite it on one side, it comes out on the other.”]
We say: “I really enjoyed the generous slathering of mustard but could have done without a few slices of ham. I’m of the mind that less is more when it comes to sandwiches, but if you’re looking for a good bargain, this is it. At under $10, this hearty sandwich would easily feed two hungry people.”
It’s dubbed itself the world’s most famous Cuban restaurant, and the Cubano might be the most popular thing on the menu. The original (there’s a special version that’s slightly larger) met all the basic requirements: toasted, filled with the right ingredients and cut perfectly in half.
Abuela Ana says: “It’s good, but it has too much mustard. You can see it from the outside!”
We say: “I’m a sucker for condiments and love how drippy this sandwich is with the pork juice and mustard. Sorry, Abuela!”
This typical Cuban diner, with a large counter and walk-up window for coffee, is a local chain, but it’s homey and inexpensive. At lunchtime you’ll see the Formica counter lined with people leaning over well-pressed Cubanos toasted in a plancha (a large sandwich grill).
Abuela Ana says: “They know how to make a good sandwich. This used to be my favorite many years ago [when it was in another location]. It is still good.”
We say: “This baby’s solid. It’s not a standout, but I did appreciate that the bread was toasted.”
This spot is a must for anyone visiting South Beach, mostly because tourists tout it as having Miami’s ultimate Cubano. It certainly caters to the masses with a choice of size (medium or large), extra pickles and a slather of mayonnaise.
Abuela Ana says: “Where’s the pork? These people keep leaving out the pork. I guess it’s cheaper to have more ham.”
We say: “I’d have this again if I were in the area, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. I wish it had more mustard.”
Meet our Cubano critics
Ana Torres is a real Cuban abuela with three adorable grandchildren and an undying love of cafecitos to prove it. The sassy septuagenarian has lived in Miami for nearly 40 years and has tasted her share of Cuban sandwiches around the city. She knows a good Cubano when she sees it.
Newly minted Abuelo David Basallo (to an adorable little boy named Lucas) is a true nostalgic, favoring wingtips over sneakers and the Beatles over everything else. He gets especially sentimental at mealtime, when he reminisces about his favorite Cuban eats, like the plump pizzas and toasted Cubanos of his native Havana. Clearly, he knows a good sandwich when he sees it.