The Cuban sandwich is a glorious misnomer that was actually created in Tampa in the 1800s to feed cigar factory workers. Since many of those laborers were Cuban, the name stuck. The sandwich’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past century to the point that it’s become pretty easy to find a good Cuban sandwich in L.A. at restaurants with no Tampa (or Cuban) connections. Republique serves one of the best versions thanks to yet another flavorful collaboration between savory chef Walter Manzke and pastry chef/wife Margarita Manzke in their Mid-City destination.
Classic Cuban sandwich construction features ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on a pressed roll. Any good sandwich requires good bread and Margarita Manzke bakes soft, sturdy pain de mie that absorbs juices from the stellar house-made fillings. Their Cuban Sandwich ($18) co-stars juicy roasted pork, house-cured ham, Dijon mustard, punchy pickles, and melted Gruyere cheese. Mojo is the kicker. This Cuban-style sauce generally combines citrus, olive oil, and garlic. Republique delivers a bright, tangy take on mojo made with cilantro, poblano chiles, lime juice, garlic, and olive oil that tempers the rich meats. Each sandwich comes with a hearty mixed greens salad.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.