When Cuban immigrants came to Miami in the 1950s and 60s, they forever changed the city’s food landscape with a single sandwich – the Cubano. The formula is deceptively simple – take one part roast pork, one part ham (Tampa also throws Genoa salami into the mix), lovingly layer them with some mustard, pickles and Swiss cheese between two buttered slices of Cuban bread and throw the whole thing into a hot press. The result? A culinary legend.
While the Cubano gets all the press (no pun intended), it isn’t the only sammie in the Cuban repertoire. From the medianoche with its sweet, challah-esque bread to the Elena Ruz’s oddly satisfying layers of cream cheese, strawberry jelly and turkey, there’s a robust line-up of Cuban sandwiches ready to tempt your palate, and Miami is just the place to explore them. Here are our favorite Cuban sandwich shops in Miami.
Luis Galindo’s Latin America Cafeteria & Restaurant
Serving up what is arguably one of the best classic Cuban sandwiches in the city, the staff behind the counter at Luis Galindo’s Latin America are the city’s true sandwich artists. Perfecting the meat-to-cheese ratio of the Cubano, this no-frills cafeteria has earned the loyalty of multiple generations of Miamians with its sliced-and-stacked version of the beloved sandwich. The proof is in the lunchtime masses who crowd the restaurant for a reasonably-priced bite of buttery-pressed heaven.
How to get there: From Downtown, head west on the Dolphin Expressway (836) and exit at NW 57 Ave/Red Rd. Make a left on NW 57 Ave/Red Rd and continue south for 1.5 miles.
Although their original location on Bird Road has spawned a Cuban cuisine empire, Sergio’s Cubano sandwich still stands up to most local mom-and-pop shops – and they have the awards to back it up. The decor and furnishings may be a bit more slick than their cafeteria counterparts, but the pork-to-ham ratio of their Cubano is just right. Don’t miss the Elena Ruth (better known as the Elena Ruz), a sweet, creamy combo that feels like something your inner six-year-old might have put together with the help of a master chef.
How to get there: Take the Dolphin Expressway (836) east to the Palmetto Expressway (826) south. Exit on 40th St (Bird Rd) and head west for 2 miles.
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Sanguich de Miami
Once you’ve got a handle on the classic, proceed to a more crafty rendition of the Cubano at Sanguich de Miami. With its Spanish tiles and brass trimmings, this 25-seater nestled within a Little Havana strip mall feels like you’ve been transported to an early-1900s Cuban cafe. But that’s not the only throwback – the sandwiches coming out from behind the counter are assembled using ingredients made the old-school way. Mustard seeds are ground into their namesake condiment, ham is cured for 10 days and pickles are all brined in-house.
While you can’t go wrong with the Cubano, Sanguich also gets high marks for its pan con lechon (the Cuban version of a shredded pork sandwich) and creamy tropical fruit shakes.
How to get there: From Downtown, head west on 8th St (Calle Ocho) for 2 miles.
Don’t let the industrial maze of warehouses surrounding this unassuming spot in Doral deter you – after all, who needs pomp when you’ve got some of the best Cubano sandwiches in town? Los Bobos may not look like much from the outside, but for over 35 years, they’ve been steadily cranking out sandwiches for the people. Yes, it’s standing-room only at the counter. Yes, it’s cash only. And yes, it closes at 3pm every day – 2pm on Saturdays. But the medianoche – a Cubano sandwich that utilizes a sweet egg dough bread instead of Cuban bread – makes it all feel inconsequential.
How to get there: Head west on the Dolphin Expressway (836) and merge onto Palmetto Expressway North. From there, take the NW 58th St exit and continue to NW 79th Ave.
Although there are many pretenders to the throne, the most legitimate claim for the reigning croqueta recipe in Miami belongs to Islas Canarias. What’s a croqueta? It’s a small, lightly breaded fried fritter stuffed with ham, chicken or fish and bechamel. It’s also Miami’s snack of choice, so it stands to reason that the finest croqueta preparada – a Cubano sandwich stuffed with croquetas –belongs to this local institution. But you also can’t go wrong with Islas Canarias' version of the Elena Ruz.
How to get there: Take the Dolphin Expressway (836) west to the NW 137 Ave exit and head south.
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Mary’s Coin Laundry & Deli
Amidst an ever-present crowd of locals tossing their socks into another spin cycle, Mary’s Coin Laundry & Deli supplies the city with some of the tastiest – and least expensive – Cuban sammies in town. This 24-hour operation is far from the swankiest spot to enjoy a late-night bite, but the pan con bistec (Cuban steak sandwich) and cafe con leche (Cuban espresso and milk) just might make it the most satisfying. Place your order at the window and grab one of the few outdoor tables. Or do as the locals do and take your savory haul to go.
How to get there: Take I-95 south to US Rte 1 Then, make a right on 27th Ave and head north for half a mile.
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This article was originally published in October 2019 and updated August 2020.