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Los Angeles Area Cuban Sub / Sandwich

NOT Upscale!: The Cuban Sandwich at Cafe Atlantic

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NOT Upscale!: The Cuban Sandwich at Cafe Atlantic

Dommy! | Feb 2, 2006 06:08 PM

Last October a friend sent me an e-mail… knowing what a sandwich fiend I am, she asked me if I had seen the article on Cuban Sandwiches in the L.A. Times Magazine. I replied no, and made a snarky comment of, BESIDES… odds are the LAT wouldn’t even talk about the only proper Cuban Sandwich in the city, Café Atlantic…

She shot back quickly, to say actually they do…

And so I tore into the paper and read the article… And despite offering recommendations for the sandwiches from the usual Cuban suspects (Portos, Versailles and Café Tropical, all three with BAD versions…) the author does go on to wax poetic about the one from Café Atlantic… Even going on to say it’s upscale sandwich, perhaps TOO upscale to be considered a Cuban…

BAH!!!! First, there is nothing upscale about the Sandwich… it’s strictly, purely Cuban… at least how I remember it… But it had been almost 3 years since I had it… Had it changed? I really needed to find out… and since I found myself hungry and wandering Pasadena last night… I headed right towards Raymond and Union and into Café Atlantic.

Café Atlantic is the sister restaurant to the TRULY upscale Pan Latin Restaurant Xiomara. It’s literally around the corner, on Union. It’s a casual place, one side of the room has ‘formal’ tables with table cloths and wine glasses. The other side is wicker furniture, to enjoy a pastry from their case and a drink from their full service coffee bar. Orders to go are as common as orders in. On a Thursday night, the restaurant was barely full…

I was STARVING and ordered…

Croquetas de Cordero y Chorizo $5.00. One of my favorite things at Portos (Aside from their fruit tarts) is their Croquetas. So I wanted to see how these compared… and they don’t. First, they are PURE meaty Croquetas, no potato. Second, they are small… you get 2 for your $5.00, which is PRICY… Still, they tasted wonderful… Great Chorizo flavor and not greasy at all… And based on that, I would probably order again…

Platanos Maduros Fritos $3.50: Plenty of Big Meaty Fried Sweet Plantains. Just perfectly soft and caramelized. The only thing missing was the beans and cream on the side (Which they don’t do because this is Cuban Restaurant) but there was still plenty of the creamy dipping sauce from the Croquetas and next time I come here I’m eating in and also ordering the bean soup ($5.00)

And of course, my Sandwich Cubano $8.00: I ordered it a salad, which was a lovely mix of field greens, sliced grape tomatoes, radishes and THIN red onion slices. Sadly, the mix was thrown off by being doused in a sharp lemon olive oil vinaigrette… So be sure to ask for dressing on the SIDE!! As for the sandwich, it was as beautiful as I remember… HUGE… over a foot long, WIDE. Toasted to perfection (Not dry or crumbly) and fill of ham, pork and LOTS of melted Swiss… The article in the LA Times (Which sadly has been archived already is titles “It’s All About the Pickle”, and with this sandwich, it totally is… The pick is strong, but sliced AMAZINGLY thin… so it blends in almost quietly amongst the other flavors… No, this wasn’t an upscale sandwich… this was a sandwich made with absolute care…

And so, three years later, the crown still remains in Pasadena… And I actually am looking forward to try their other Cuban classics like Ropa Vieja or Rabo Encendido… and of course, perhaps steal another nibble of that beautiful Cuban…

--Dommy!

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