I bring my lunch to work everyday. Not only is it more convenient for me, but it saves me money and calories for my chowish pursuits in the evenings and weekends. But in my rush yesterday morning, I forgot my lunch
After the initial anger subsided (I REALLY hate to buy lunch), I focused on the positive and since it was a pretty light day, I went off on a chow hunt to Havana Sandwich Company in Downtown El Segundo. I had heard about this place a few months ago through a post about Cuban Sandwiches. It received a couple of raves, and since I LOVE sandwiches I've been actually itching to give it a try and see how it stacks up to the current Cuban king, Café Atlantic in Pasadena
Located in a strip mall on the corner of Grand and Main it's looks like your typical lunch take out place. It does have seats inside and a full cuban menu. It also serves "Cuban" beers and sodas. I ordered the standard Cuban, full sized with Rice/Beans/Fried Plantains on the side. It was a HUGE amount of food (The sandwich was a foot long!) for about $7.50 Pretty good!
WARNING: I have to put this in, Downtown El Segundo is one of those little revitilized downtowns that basically should have never been one in the first place! The streets are all wonky and narrow. To further complicate matters, there are several time sensititive driving restrictions in place. SO, when leaving the shopping center, do NOT make a left turn to return to Grand there ARE cops there waiting for you to do this GRR!!
SO, back to the chow
I got back to my office and unwrapped a long beautiful looking sandwich. The fillings were plentiful and the bread was slightly toasted. I took the first bite and the saltiness of the ham and pickles and the softness if the roasted pork was just right!! But after a few chews, it all turned a bit gummy. I took a look at the bread and saw it was a pretty cheap spongy roll. Total Subway stuff here GRRR!!
Next, I tried the fried bananas They looked pretty well done, but tasted like NOTHING but paste. BLEH!! No caramelization at all, like they have been fried in the hottest oil for the shortest amount of time. GRRRR!!!!
Then the rice, which was bland and kinda crumbly. Parboiled, maybe even from a heat and serve bag But even worse were the beans. I LOVE LOVE LOVE black beans. I make them in HUGE batches. But these were as bland as the rice! Not even a hint of salt, let alone a rich, herbal beanie flavor that even Del Taco has mastered!! GRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!
*Sigh* So with absolutely no contest the winner remains Café Atlantic. And if I ever need a Cuban fix closer to work, I'll just head over to Versailles (Even if the filling of their cuban stinks, They use good bread, and know how to do plaintains, Rice and Beans properly!)