My Quest for the Best Cuban Sandwich (Bodega’s & Rueben’s Cubans)

I’ve searched high and low in my quest to find the world’s best Cuban Sandwich. My journey has taken me to several restaurants throughout the state of Florida who claim to make the “best” sandwich.

Since the modern Cuban Sandwich was born here in Florida, Ybor City to be exact (via Cuba, their sandwich was called a Mixto and was slightly different), it only seems logical to taste as many Floridian versions as possible. My quest will never end, however, after eating literally hundreds of versions throughout the years I have found a place in Tampa that stands alone at the top – Brocato’s has been king now for a while, many have tried to knock them from their comfy perch atop the mound of wannabes, but thus far no one can.

Brocatos 1
Brocato’s famous Cuban Sandwich – Amen!

Click here to read my official review of Brocato’s

Today, I have two more contenders for the top spot, after several favorable reviews from friends, it has become apparent that I must try “Bodega’s” in downtown St. Pete and Rueben’s Cubans in Tampa.

Currently, the best Cuban Sandwich I’ve had the pleasure to eat in St. Pete belongs to “Lucky Dill Deli” located at 277 Central Ave. in the heart of downtown. So, can Bodega’s wrestle the title from the king of Cuban’s – Brocato’s? If not, can they at least take the St. Pete title from the Lucky Dill Deli?

Drum roll please…

BODEGA DELI 

Bodega 3
Bodega Deli – 1120 Central Ave. St Petersburg, FL

Took a night time visit recently to the delightfully appealing Bodega Deli, a small, charming building with outside seating at the front (pictured) and a few tables at the rear under a roof.

The place is very clean and well run and the employees were awesome! The service is 4 stars.

Time to get down to the business at hand – how does their version of the Cuban Sandwich stack up to the competition?

Their version is pressed and contains chunky portions of pork instead of the deli sliced type of ham used on some Cuban’s. All the other ingredients are what you would expect to see on a proper Cuban.

My first thought as I bit into the sandwich was, “it’s a little dry.” The flavors meshed well, however the pork was less than amazing. Overall, the sandwich tasted good and hit the spot, but in my humble opinion Bodega’s version can’t hang with the big boys.

Bodega 4
Bodega Cuban Sandwich up close and personal

GutterPup Official Rating for Bodega:  2.8 stars  (out of 4 stars)

This sandwich was better than good, but not quite “very good.” The Lucky Dill remains safe at the top for now as St. Pete’s Best Cuban Sandwich. Bodega falls far behind the mac daddy of all Cubans – Brocato’s.

RUEBEN’S CUBANS

Ruebens Cubans 1
Oh my! The fantastic Rueban’s Cuban

Rueban’s Cubans at 4941 E. Busch Ave. in Tampa (across the street from Busch Gardens) is a place that I have frequented several times over the years, so it is more than time to do an official review of one of my favorite Cuban restaurants.

The restaurant is fairly small with a take-out area to one side and a sit-down area to the other side. This isn’t a fancy place folks, so there’s no need to dress in your finest attire when visiting, but that’s more than fine by me. They are all about serving fantastic Cuban food here, and take it very serious.

Their version is a beautiful work of art! The sandwich is pressed to perfection giving it a wonderful crunch. Something different about Rueben’s version is that they come with lettuce and tomato, which is frowned on by some purists, but not by me – I love it this way.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have to confess, this sandwich is so damn good that I dreamed about it for two days afterward! Just thinking about it makes me happy. But can it topple Brocato’s from it’s top position???

Brocatos Bldg 1
The famous Brocato’s in Tampa

GutterPup Official Rating for Rueben’s:  3.99 stars  (out of 4 stars)

Rueben’s Cubans and Brocato’s are neck and neck, I absolutely love both of these sandwich’s and visit to either will not disappoint. My rating for Brocato’s Cuban Sandwich is 4 stars and Rueben’s is just a tiny fraction behind at 3.99 stars – I give the slight edge to Brocato’s only because they have a larger sandwich for the money (it weighed in at 1.5 lbs!)

So there you have it folks, Brocato’s remains the Undisputed Champion of Cuban Sandwiches, but they had better watch out, because Rueben’s is no joke and could at any moment take the title.

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JP Twitter Pic2Hi my name is JP Chartier and I write for Gutter Pup Adventures.com where you can expect to read well-written and entertaining articles about the people and places that often get overlooked at many popular vacation destinations around the world.

 

 

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