We've all heard about the ongoing battle for "Cuban Sandwich Supremacy" between Tampa and Miami over the years. What city is responsible for creating the Cuban sandwich? Is there really a difference between the two Cuban sandwiches? To whom does the Cuban sandwich actually belong? Well allow me to settle that conflict for you: there's no conflict. It's Tampa.
Yes, they were invented here. Yes, they are different (we use salami, Miami doesn't because they're wrong). And yes, they are better. I am a Tampa native, born and bred, and have studied long and hard on this one. We here at 813area know this won't be without controversy because there is no debate in our city that stokes the fires of Tampanians like this one (except for maybe how to do Gasparilla). The only steadfast rules are you must have ham, pork, and salami, but otherwise, we're allowing for a bit of wiggle room. With the rules established: here is our list of nominees for the Best Cuban Sandwich in Tampa.
The most important part of a perfect Cuban sandwich is the bread. No one does Cuban bread better than La Segunda Bakery. Since 1915, they've been the premier Cuban bread bakery in the Tampa Bay area and beyond. You have two locations in Tampa Bay. The original Ybor City store and one on Kennedy Blvd. in South Tampa.
Ah, a Tampa classic. This family-owned local sandwich shop has been feeding lines out the door since 1948 and prepares my personal favorite Cuban sandwich. The Cuban at Brocato's is stacked with ham, pork, salami and Swiss cheese on homemade Cuban bread. It's offered in five different, generous sizes. Extra small (4"), Small (8"), Regular ("10), Large (12") and Joe's Special (15"). All Cubans here are served with chips and your choice of unlimited canned soda or 8 oz beer. Brocato's even allows you to order online and bypass the long waits that always fill the parking lots at this Tampa treasure.
Known for its barbecue in Tampa, Station House also serves up one of the best Cuban sandwiches in Tampa Bay. Stop by for a quick bite and see just what this North Tampa/Lutz restaurant has to offer.
They're only open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, but Gene Anthony's still manages to be a very popular stop for a Cuban sandwich. You might see Grandma at this family-owned and operated restaurant. They also serve homemade devil crab pies, empanadas, and sweet potato pies.
This Brandon-based bakery is also known for some delicious Cuban sandwiches! Their 9" Cuban is made with house-made pork, ham, salami, Swiss cheese, sliced dill pickles, and their special Moreno mayonnaise. And while you're there, grab some dessert too!
Don't be phased by the size of this small "hole in the wall," West Tampa Sandwich Shop is another hidden treasure on this list. In fact, it's likely the most unique sandwich in the Bay area, the Honey Cuban "Obama Sandwich." It's a traditional Cuban sandwich but with honey! You can try it just the way President Obama did during his visit a few years ago by adding lettuce and tomato for a small additional charge. That's ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, mayo, mustard, and pickles on pressed homemade Cuban bread. Sandwiches here are served small, regular, or large. This West Tampa legend opens every day of the week at 5:00 a.m. and is located at
Located in Tampa's historic Ybor City District, you kind just know this one is going to be good. Widely known as "Tampa's original restaurant" Columbia has been serving Cuban sandwiches and traditional Spanish favorites since 1905 and is the oldest restaurant in Florida. Not only is the Cuban Sandwich here top-notch, but the experience and ambiance also take dining here to a whole other level. Today the Cuban Sandwich at Columbia uses the original 1915 recipe of Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., with the same proportions of meat and each ingredient piled on top of one another, placed on Cuban bread brushed with butter on top and pressed to a crispy finish. The sliced, freshly-baked Tampa Cuban bread from La Segunda Central Bakery used at the Columbia puts this sandwich over the top. Reservations are often required at the Columbia, and you can book yours online anytime.
Owned by the Capedevila family for many generations and serving a menu of Cuban and Spanish standards in an intimate surroundings, La Teresita is possibly the best overall Cuban restaurant in Tampa Bay. It has become the most popular hot spot for a delicious breakfast or lunch, cafe con Leche, soups, homemade cooked meals, and of course, the Cuban Sandwich. The Cuban here is typically made with many of the ingredients you see above, but it's served quicker and cheaper than anywhere else. You can enjoy a Cuban Sandwich at La Teresita in a more traditional seated dining room or in the bustling, order-at-the-counter cafeteria filled with customers on lunch break or stopping in for a quick bite during their busy day. There is also an affiliated market and bakery for customers to check out during their visit here. La Teresita has previously been voted the "Comfort Food Award", the "Cheap Eats Award" and the "Best of the Bay" Award.
Michelle Faedo has been creating exquisite Tampeño fare for as long as she can remember. Michelle and her husband have been on the culinary team for over 25 years, serving their unique menu to the Tampa locals. Come over and get a taste of what Tampa is all about!
Again: not the real deal, but that's the only way you can argue about this. Wright's is as much of a South Tampa institution as hoity-toity air kisses and people running red lights on Henderson Blvd. There's often a line down Dale Mabry Blvd. for lunches, but in addition to roasted pork with ham, Genoa salami... they add turkey breast. The pickles and Jarlsberg cheese with mustard served on fresh Cuban bread is as 813 as a hand-rolled cigar, and it is a six-time winner of the Tampa Tribune's (RIP) All-Tampa Cuban Sandwich Contest, but... turkey. Also, be sure to allow 15 minutes for this one when ordering.
Classis Latin eatery focuses on empanadas with several locations throughout Tampa. Don't skip out on their Cuban though as this traditional take on a classic dish is almost too much to handle. From fresh pork to classic sauces, Mr. Empanada does it all.
Flan Factory is a NEW modern Cuban sandwich shop located in Ybor City, Tampa. The homegrown brand is known for its variety of delicious artisanal flans, but the new restaurant can boast a menu of flavorful Latin food favorites.
A cash-only local joint connected to a transmission shop but don't be fooled by the lack of visual presentation. Palm Ave. Sandwich Shop makes an incredible Cuban sandwich for a great price! Like a few places on this list, you can get by without English if necessary, and it's open for breakfast at 7 a.m. during the week so grab a con Leche too. It's about as authentically Tampa as you can get, and is one of the institutions in this town.
So that's our list of the best Cuban sandwiches in Tampa. May the debates begin. But if you want to find out more about dining in the Tampa Bay area, make sure to visit and register for 813area.com. It's your FREE resource for events, nightlife, restaurants, and more!