I’ve been saving my Cuban sandwich virginity for Miami. They’re everywhere in this state, on cafe’s menus alongside regular ol’ tuna and turkey and ham sannies, but it seems like one should do it right on the Cuban sandwich front. Supposedly invented in Ybor for hungry Cuban worker’s porky lunches, a Cuban sandwich is basically a vehicle for consuming a ton of pork. Fluffy Cuban bread (kinda like wonderbread and a baguette had a baby) stuffed with ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard then hot-pressed. Not panini pressed, mind you. Big flat sannie-presses wrapped in tin foil.

And the place to go for Cuban food in Miami is the famous Versailles, a big, touristy yet not touristy restaurant on Calle Ocho in Little Havana. With tables full of loud, beautiful Spanish-speaking families next to pairs sweating tourists, Versailles is one of those famous places that’s famous for a reason and stays cool despite the fame.

The big dining rooms are lined with lit mirrors and jammed with long tables, people eating giant sandwiches and platters of roast pork and piles of sugary plantains. I was tempted by the “ropa vieja,” shredded beef stewed in tomato sauce, but managed to stay focused on the Cuban sandwich mission. Dad got a Versailles Special, basically a Cuban plus chewy chorizo, and Momma got a really good roast pork and onion sannie. Dad’s was definitely the best, although my Cuban was pretty freakin’ good. And giant. Like two times the size of my head. But of course I still got dessert, I couldn’t resist ice cream flavors that I had to Google. Along with the standard chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and the slightly less conventional dulce de leche, Versailles also had some strange fruit ice creams, guanabanabanana-somesing, a bunch I can’t remember, and the one I got, mamey. According to Wikipedia, mamey tastes like “a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, and maraschino cherries, with the texture of an avocado.” I’d say… funky strawberry. Good anyway, and accompanied by a sweet little Cubany biscotti item, a delightful little finale to our Versailles pilgrimage.

El camarero.

Sandwich, tostones (fried but not sugared plantains), sandwich, mom.

Advertisements