The City of Tampa is a very vibrant culinary destination. We have everything from the freshest day-boat seafood to a rich Italian and Spanish influence on our local restaurants. One thing not to miss is the many restaurants and shops that serve Authentic Cuban sandwiches.
There is some debate as to the origin of the Cuban Sandwich but most historians and especially local Tampanians agree that the Cuban Sandwich started in Tampa Bay as a traditional lunch for the many workers in the Ybor City cigar factories in the late 1800’s. The traditional sandwich consists of glazed ham, roast pork, swiss cheese, soft salami, thin sliced dill pickles, and a slathering of yellow mustard. These ingredients could be packed in the morning and kept without refrigeration until lunch time. The traditional Cuban Sandwich would never include lettuce, tomato, or especially mayo. The bread is what truly makes the Cuban Sandwich special. Tampa has its own version of Cuban bread that is crisp and crusty and baked in palmetto leaves. The bread is usually brushed with butter or olive oil and then the whole sandwich is toasted and pressed flat and oh so good.
There is a somewhat friendly rivalry between Miami and Tampa that has been going on for years as to which city has the best Cuban Sandwich. While I am of course biased, Tampa is hands down the winner of the best and most authentic Cuban Sandwich. The Miami sandwich differs slightly in that the bread is sweeter and not as crusty. The Miami sandwich usually doesn’t include salami as an ingredient. The idea is that the salami was added because of the Italian immigrant influence in Tampa at the time of the creation of the Cuban sandwich. Salami is a must for a traditional Cuban sandwich!
Check out these recommendations for the best Cuban Sandwiches that you should get out try as soon as possible.
So where is your favorite?