There’s a little joint in the heart of Nolita where you can savor delicious Cubanos and Elote. This precious gem is Café Habana, located on 17 Prince St., a short walk from the B, D, F and M train at Broadway/Lafayette St. The café (where you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner) is inspired by a storied Mexico hangout where it’s rumored Che Guevara and Fidel Castro plotted the cuban revolution. Despite having multiple locations such as Dubai, Tokyo, New Orleans, Malibu, in addition to the one in Manhattan and the ones in Brooklyn, this little spot on Prince St. is a go to when you’re craving a delicious cuban sandwich.
But what exactly is a cubano sandwich? If you have seen the movie Chef, you should know that it’s one of those iconic street foods you cannot miss out on. To put it simply: it’s a variation of a ham and cheese sandwich, that raises the bar among all sandwiches.
Made with cuban bread – a white bread very similar to Italian bread and french baguettes, the Cubano is made with ham, swiss cheese, roasted pork, pickles, and mustard. Sometimes genoa salami can be added, which is a remnant of the influence Italian immigrants who lived in Ybor City, FL had.
The bread is sliced in half lengthwise and slightly buttered on the crust. A layer of yellow mustard is spread on each half and is then topped with roast pork, glazed ham, swiss cheese and dill pickles. It is then put on something similar to a panini press, known as a plancha, which differentiates from the first as it doesn’t have grooves. It’s the plancha that makes it absolute heaven. The sandwich is pressed until the crust is nice and crispy, the cheese is melted, and all the flavors become a symphony of flavors. Trust me, it will be love at first bite.
The bread is perfectly crispy, the pork is juicy and tender, the ham salty and sweet. It’s absolutely perfect in each single bite. Oh and did I mention it’s huge? Not that you can’t eat one on your own, mind me, but for 12$ you could easily just get one with a side of Elote (8$) and share. Oh and yes, the Elote – which is basically grilled corn covered in mayo, cotija cheese, chili powder and lime – is pretty darn good too.
The menu at Café Habana has a lot to offer, but you CANNOT go and not order a Cubano. If you’d rather take one to go, you can pop over to the nearby location on 229 Elizabeth St. where you can just order and leave (or sit outside, if the weather allows it).
Café Habana is usually pretty packed so keep in mind you might have to wait a bit before being seated, but hey… it’s New York after all, isn’t it?
17 Prince Street New York, NY
Habana To Go
229 Elizabeth New York, NY
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