Where to go when you can’t get to Tampa (or Havana)
By Liza Long, Photography by Mark Dyrud
What’s your definition of the perfect sandwich? Mine might well be the Cubano—and I tried my first one right here in Boise, Idaho. The classic Cubano is essentially a simple roasted pork, ham and cheese sandwich with pickles, mustard, and Swiss cheese served on pressed bread. You won’t find these savory sandwiches in Havana: like chow mein, the Cubano is an American creation according to many historians, a sandwich that served Cuban workers in Florida and was designated the “first signature sandwich “of Tampa, Florida in 2012. Others argue that it was created as a mid-day meal for Cuban cigar factory workers in the late 1890s. Whatever the truth of its origins, its present day incarnation in Boise is pure comfort food satisfaction. Here are three local places to enjoy a Cubano, each with their own take on this sandwich classic.
I have to admit that I had never noticed the High Note until a favorable Idaho Statesman review convinced me that I had to try my first Cubano. The café is tucked away on Fifth Street near the downtown Flying M, and on late Sunday mornings, it’s a busy place. The High Note’s mouthwatering sandwich is a classic pressed sandwich with slow roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, homemade dill pickles, and yellow mustard (gluten free bread is available for an additional $2.00). If you’re there for a lazy Sunday brunch, enjoy the sandwich with a specialty Mimosa featuring unique homemade juice combinations. $9.95, served with your choice of side, soup, or salad.
225 N. 5th Street, (208) 429-1911, Monday through Thursday 11 am-9 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
If the Casablanca isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. Yelp ratings peg this restaurant as the best place to try a Cuban sandwich in Boise. They offer two versions of the Cubano, a classic sandwich with roasted pork, ham, mustard, and pickles, and the medianoche (midnight) sandwich, which features the same ingredients served on sweet egg dough bread. The sandwiches are served with French fries, or with sweet potato fries or a cup of soup for a bit extra. $8.99.
Casablanca also has a popular Cuban panini food truck (follow on Facebook for locations).
5506 W. Overland Road, (208) 331-2370, Monday through Saturday 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
I’ve been a fan of the Dish’s chef Jered Couch since his sixonesix days in Eagle. Couch has carved out a culinary niche by taking creative risks with familiar dishes, and his take on the Cubano is no exception. His version of the popular pressed sandwich features pork bellies, prosciutto, candied jalapenos, zucchini pickles, and gruyere cheese with whole grain mustard, served with zucchini pickles, fries, or side house salad. I have to admit that the zucchini pickles are my favorite part of this dish, though I also like the substitution of gruyere for more traditional Swiss cheese. $11.25
205 N. Tenth Street, Monday-Saturday, 5:00-10:00 p.m.