- Posted August 27, 2012 by
Florida's Best Cuban Sandwich
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
Alas, the Cuban Sandwich is not a sandwich originating in Cuba.
It has officially been named as "the official sandwich of Tampa, Florida."
Historical Ybor City, now an area within the city of Tampa, was founded by cigar manufacturers and for years, international workers in Ybor City's cigar factories rolled millions of cigars annually. And you guessed it, many of them were in fact from Cuba.
So, the original Cuban sandwich is also said to have been born there.
It was created here as a lunchtime food for the many international cigar workers. While there is some rivalry between South Florida and Tampa over who can truly claim to have created this delicious sandwich, it was recently determined by popular vote (in a state-wide Miami vs Tampa competition) to be Tampa's Cuban Sandwich that is the "real" Cuban sandwich. The reason for this judgement? Tampa/Ybor Cuban has mustard (and not mayonnaise), as mustard did not spoil during the time before fridges, and when the cigar workers needed their lunch sandwiches to last until lunch without going bad. All of the ingredients of the sandwich are inspired by the cultures of the various cigar workers who came to Ybor to work. So, the "Cuban sandwich" is, in fact, only ingredients inspired by Cuban cigars!
So, where to get the best Cuban Sandwich?
Here's a look inside the kitchen at Gaspar's Grotto, the restaurant named "Best Cuban Sandwich in Florida" (at the Cuban Sandwich Festival in May 2012, when 40 Florida restaurants participated in the Cuban Sandwich smack-down). You'll be AMAZED how many sandwiches they make each and every day. In fact, Tampa has become a major sports town, and this places has become a favorite fuel stop for them! It's not unusual to spot one of Tampa's pro athlete's at Gaspar's, chowing down on a Cuban Sandwich!
(The name of the restaurant is after Gaspar, the famous pirate who supposedly sailed the waters off of Tampa's coast.)