The pressed ham-and-Swiss sandwich most likely was born in Cuba and grew up in Key West. Travel was easy and the sandwich crossed from the island to the Keys, Ybor City and Tampa with Cuban cigar workers. Then, over time, the classic we know today evolved.
Now there is the Little Bread version in Little Havana.
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The 5-week-old place is run by Alberto Cabrera of Bread + Butter, who grew up in Miami and learned to cook with his Cuban abuela. Past places where he worked include Norman’s, La Broche and Karu & Y, developing his style of comfort food, made with the best-quality ingredients.
Here, fresh-baked baguettes with a good crust get transformed into a Cubano with pork belly rillette, ham, salami, house pickles and red wine mustard. The smaller medianoche has ham, porchetta, Ementhal cheese, pickles and mustard “caviar” made from whole yellow seeds on slices of buttery toasted Pullman bread served club-style, good with a bag of malagna chips.
These may be the stars of the menu, but there are also snacks, other sandwiches such as the Elena Ruz with Malta-glazed turkey, whipped goat cheese, bacon and berry compota, and desserts in the brick-walled space with a large patio out back with a streamliner bar and small stage for live music.
Start with ham croquetas with mustard aioli and saltines. Or get smoked chicken wings with kimchi and Florida honey with cilantro. All of Cabrera’s purveyors, many from Florida, are named on a board by the entrance, including Paradise and Swank farms. The pork comes from Fudge Farm in Alabama.
The pulpeta is a ham meatloaf sandwich with a hard-cooked egg in the center, while the shrimp enchilado brings creole shrimp on avocado mousse with plantain relish. Cuban bread with caraway seeds is used for the pastrami sandwich. This mostly lunch shop should make you want a sandwich for dinner too, followed by milk fudge topped with bacon bits or flan with jam.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.