Those that follow the Hungry Hound on Twitter might of seen him doing his own little Cuban sandwich quest in Miami recently. He was pretty quick to dismiss Tampa as the superior to all other places or rather fast with the trigger to crown Miami the King. I twat at him saying he needed to check out Tampa before proclaiming Miami the best and he replied that he promised to get back to Tampa "next trip". No worries mon, the Hungry Lion's got dis one. I did my own little quest for one of the countries best regional sandwiches while in the Cigar City earlier this month. West Tampa Sandwich Shop
A locals favorite for the past 32 years
The first stop was one that came onto my radar this past election season. The POTUS stopped into this popular lunch and socializing spot
in an old Cuban neighborhood not far from Ybor City. That's where many of the old cigar factories the Cuban immigrants of Tampa used to work at. Popular debate topics the past three decades have been what Cubans are passionate about, baseball and politics. Though most everyone here agrees on the food. When I stopped in on a Fri. around lunch the place was popping with regulars having espresso and sandwiches. They only have two presses so when it gets busy the wait can be a little while. Call ahead if in a rush.
The ladies behind the counter were hard at work on my visit
When the President visited he ordered ropa viejo and Honey Cuban sandwiches for his crew. I wish I could of further explored the menu but I was on a mission and needed room in my appetite for the other shops. I ended up getting their specialty of the house Honey Cuban sandwich which is a regular Cuban pressed with drizzled honey on the bread. This was my GF's 2nd and very close to 1st favorite place and one I thoroughly enjoyed with the enhancement of the warm honey.
Honey Cuban SandwichLa Segunda Central Bakery
Supplying fresh baked Cuban bread to Tampa since 1915
As you know, a super-authentic Cuban would be made with the Tampa-style bread from La Segunda (less "short" and fluffier than Miami bread, plus the palm leaf), and Genoa salami, in addition to the other orthodox ingredients.
Not far from our first stop you'll find this JeffB rec'd Tampa institution where they still hand bake their original recipe Cuban bread around the clock. On top of their most popular item which is their bread they also have all sorts of baked sweets and a couple of sweeties working behind the counter if I may say so myself. You can order treats from the cases with those working them and then theres a separate station for sandwiches.
A peak inside
One thing to take note of in Tampa is some places include everything as far as condiments go to be mayo, mustard, pickles, lettuce, tomato and onion. Most places also will ask if you want your sandwich hot or cold. So be sure to tell them you only want the cheese, pickles, mustard and maybe a little mayo if you must. Don't mind the salami, as mentioned above that's traditional in these parts and doesn't do anything to hurt the sandwich, it only helps. Obviously the bread was the star here and the sandwich was great because of it. It could of been a little warmer inside.
Cuban Sandwich from the source for the best Cuban bread in the statesBrocato's Sandwich Shop
Since 1948: A Tampa Tradition
I spent my first year of college down in Tampa at UT and this was me a couple of my buddies go to spot for a huge filling sandwich. Just like back when this place is still packed to the brim during lunchtime. It's a pretty large space with an outdoor area and they have quite a few folks making sandwiches and their famous Devil Crabs are made for you to see in their own public kitchen.
What is it?
I always loved the Devil Crabs which is a great mixture of flavors. Chopped onions, red peppers, crab claw meat that's lightly mixed with marinara and Worcestershire sauce is fried in huge oversize croquettes. These treats have influence from the cigar factory workers of Cuba, Spain and Italy. Brocato's always had the best. They have a special that will get you any 6" sandwich and a Devil Crab for $13 which is the way to go. As far as sandwiches they have quite a few including their popular Italian and also a meatball and cheese steak.
A peak inside Tampa's not as famous regional eat
Back then it wash either a Cuban or their roast pork straight up for me. Its the pork that makes this sandwich. One somewhat disappointing aspect of most Cubans I had all over Florida this past trip was the fact most used cheap old deli ham. It makes me further appreciate Cafecito
for their use of quality ham. Although the pork at all these places is pretty great and Brocato's is best. It's the Al's beef of Cubans in Tampa.
Cuban Sandwich The Floridian
Located in a little strip mall, recommended thru a Tampa foodie on Twitter
Not to be confused by the historic Floridan Hotel
which is also in town, the Floridian is a newer sandwich shop with the aim of going chain. As for now the original location is on Kennedy Blvd and they claim to serve the "Finest Cuban Sandwiches on the Planet". The bread as La Segunda's website points out comes from there and overall the perfectly pressed sandwich really worked but again the quality of the ham was somewhat lacking. Although I'm guessing this is how locals like it. I still very much liked it myself.
Cuban SandwichWright's Gourmet
I never made it to Wright's when I was in Tampa but had I it would of been my spot. This is an old school deli where you walk in and wait in line until the sandwich makers call you up. You then order from the sandwich menu or the display case with potato salads and other such sides as well as their famous desserts and pay after its all made and placed on your tray.
Since 1963, Tampa's Premiere Deli Cafe
I tried their famous "Beef Martini" sandwich at the airport en route home but the star here is their Cuban. Both me and her declared it easily the best on this trip. It's made with La Segunda bread, and in addition to some great sliced roasted pork, ham and salami they add a slice of turkey and use Jarlsberg cheese. A perfectly balanced sandwich. I'd love to try some of their other offerings. Happy New Year to all.
The 6 Time Winner of the Tampa Tribune's Best Cuban Sandwich in the city contest
West Tampa Sandwich Shop
3904 North Armenia Avenue
Tampa, FL 33607
La Segunda Central Bakery
2512 North 15th Street
Tampa, FL 33605
Brocato's Sandwich Shop
5021 East Columbus Drive
Tampa, FL 33619
4424 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33609
Wright's Gourmet Cafe
1200 South Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33629