Anyone had the Cuban at Tabula Rasa?
el cochinito was great 10 years ago. then they redecorated the place and doubled their prices.
God I love that bar. As for the sandwich, it’s tasty, but not an authentic cuban and not worth seeking out. The bread is all wrong (as is the case pretty much everywhere in LA), and the pork lacked flavor.
El Cochinito’s is much better, but still nowhere near what one finds in South Florida. Using proper Cuban bread is such a big part of getting it right.
Proper Cuban bread this evening, ala Columbia restaurant in Ybor City, Tampa.
So, as I mentioned in the bagel thread, after my failure, I went to El Conchinito for their semi-famous Cuban sandwich.
They had a nice little outdoor patio built into the parking lot. Only allowing outside dining.
I’ve had this bookmarked for years after hearing on the news that they won a contest at the International Cuban Sandwich Festival, for best Cuban sandwich in the “traditional” category, beating out a ton of well-known competitors.
For those who do not know, a Cuban sandwich consists of ham, sliced or sometimes shredded roasted pork, Swiss cheese, slightly sour dill pickles, and mustard on cuban bread that is buttered on the top and pressed. Then they slice it lengthwise on a diagonal. Well, that’s the Miami version. Tampa they use salami.
I lived in the Tampa Bay area for a couple years as a kid, and lived in Miami where at 15 years old, I actually started my culinary career (LOL - JK) making Cuban sandwiches and medianoches at a popular spot at a busy mall. so I have eaten a few in my day and made them for the Cuban community.
This was pretty right on for a Miami version. The bread texture seemed more like that for a medianoche but not sweet. Everything was balanced as it should be. Not piled high, the pickles and mustard nicely pronounced but not overpowering. All the flavors blended perfectly. Slight little hint of garlic from the pork.
This was exactly as I expected and definitely the closest to an authentic Cuban sandwich I’ve had in ages, though I really have only had them at a few places including Portos.
I need to go there and try the rest of the menu. Looked great and watching the food go by… damn.
Cross posting in the March 2021 Rundown
I need to go back and try El Cochinito. My first visit there was okay, but maybe they’ve gotten better.
I am not an expert by any means on this matter, but my taste buds like Habana Vieja the most in Socal for this genre of sandwich.
That looks great! Damn, Torrence is a hell of a drive. Cuban sandwiches to me aren’t drive-worthy LOL! How are the other things at Habana Vieja? I haven’t really had great Cuban food out here, but I haven’t really gone out of my way looking.
So the other food at El Conchinito was just so so?
I am of Ye Jim Leff’s Olde School of Houndology, so I’ll be that idiot who shleps from West LA to freaking Glendora for one single Donut Man peach creation - Though since last year Donut Man opened at GCM, (where I have nearby office space and parking space within walking distance - score!) it’s gonna be decidedly easier to procure those goods.
But honestly, that day I happened to be in the Torrance area for non-food reasons. And whenever I am running errands in a “new land”, I try to check out the local offerings randomly.
As for the rest of the El Cochinito menu, let’s just say I didn’t post a dedicated pictorial essay on the place…
LOL! I admire your dedication !!
Shame about El Conchinito.
8th in Miami (Calle Ocho) was a weekly jaunt. Old-school Cuban. I really need to find a good Cuban place like that here.
Versailles? El Colmao?
Now that’s the one I’ve heard of. I think I have that on my list. On Pico?
We aren’t fans of Versailles. Maybe it’s just the location I’ve been to on Venice?
It’s a good Cuban but I don’t think it holds a candle to what you can find in Tampa (e.g., Columbia, West Tampa Sandwich Shop, Brocatos, or La Segunda bakery). A big part of it is that bread isn’t quite right.
They finished in 3rd in 2019. Trying to find the list of contestants.
The bread is indeed slightly different. Seemed more like medianoche bread without the sweet.
I like the salami on the Tampa Cubans. We didn’t do that in Miami.
Damn, Columbia. I wouldn’t waste my stomach space on a sandwich from there. Everything else is SOOOO good!
The Miami and Original Cubans at Havana Sandwich in El Segundo are pretty good. Some of the other variants offered just seem odd to me (The Reuben Cuban, for one).
I like Columbia too. By that standard, I would say Cochinito is mediocre. Or perhaps “basic” is a better word. I haven’t been too enamored by any Cuban restaurant in LA. I used to live in Tampa (my Grandmother is Cuban) and have eaten at several Cuban restaurants in Miami; I think the Cuban food in Florida has more flavor. (Note: I don’t eat pork, so I haven’t tried the Cuban sandwich.)
If you don’t eat pork you might want to avoid a restaurant named El Cochinito!
i used to frequent el cochinito quite frequently starting 15 years ago. i was introduced by a cuban friend of mine. i was hooked on the bistec empanizado and it’s all i ever ordered. it was there i learned about garnishing the beans with olive oil… so i can’t comment on the sandwich, but i can say i loved the bread. can’t say it was authentic as i have no baseline. for me, the food was so good i got used to seeing a table full of transvestites eating there every time i showed up. however, they went hipster a while back, stopped being a hole in the wall and they doubled their prices - which apparently also drove the transvestites away…
cuban friend also took me to el colmao a few times. never pressed him to take me back, so it wasn’t all that memorable for me, but YMMV. versailles? my cuban friends don’t think much of the place, i don’t remember why, but that was enough to curb any interest in trying the place.
there was a cuban place in burbank (not porto’s) that opened up about 10 years ago. i can’t tell if they’re still there though.
Mambo’s on the border of Glendale/Burbank is generally “the other cuban place in Burbank”
There is also El Criollo. Only tried their sandwich once and it was far below a Florida version.