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 an expert: Abuela Ana Torres. Warning: This is one tough grandmother!
Best Cuban sandwiches in Miami
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!”Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Natalie I.
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.”
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.”
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!”
W 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.”Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Roselyn B.
This local staple of Cuban cuisine has multiple outposts in Miami (including several inside Miami International Airport), but we chose to visit its original location in the heart of Little Havana. After 44 years, it offers an expert Cubano, though it could have used less ham.
Abuela Ana says: “It needs more pork, at least two slices. Having bread and ham makes a sandwich, but not a Cuban sandwich.”
We say: “Abuela’s right: It’s too heavy on the ham, but the bread was nice and toasty—just how I like it.”
It doesn’t get more down-home than this Cuban diner in Little Havana. Service is no-frills, portions are generous, and dishes are packed with big flavors. Its location adjacent to Domino Park makes it a favorite stop for neighborhood locals and large groups of tourists exploring the area. The restaurant’s biggest offense? Skimping on the roasted pork in favor of more ham.
Abuela Ana says: “It doesn’t have any pork—not even a tiny slice. And it has too much ham, que empalaga [it’s cloying]. These people used to make a good Cuban sandwich, but this one for me has too much ham.”
We say: “I feel like they phoned it in, threw some ham on Cuban bread and toasted the hell out of it. Bread that’s too crispy is a deal-breaker for me.”
Every once in a while a sandwich shop comes along and tries to do things differently. This “culturally creative” spot offers the most divisive sandwich we sampled, replacing the Cuban bread with a soft roll and adding soppressata. In Tampa, the Cubano includes a slice of Genoa salami, but never in Miami, where it’s frowned upon.
Abuela Ana says: “They put salami in this?!? I don’t like this sandwich one bit. What is this weird bread?”
We say: “I really appreciate how soft the bread is and like the saltiness of the soppressata (which I originally thought was bacon). It also looks like it’s been pressed...nice touch!”
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.