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One Great Sandwich: El Cubanito's Cuban Sandwich

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Oct 31, 2007 4:00PM

2007_10_cubano.jpgToday we launch One Great Sandwich, a new feature where we cede the floor each week to a different Chicagoist staffer and let him or her wax romantic about a favorite sandwich. In the process we hope that our enthusiasm rubs off on you, the reader, and you decide to go out and try them, discovering more about us, yourself, the restaurants that make these sandwiches and the city we all call home in the process.

El Cubanito, a Cuban sandwich shop on North Pulaski, has only been open for six months, but owners Alberto and Laritza Ramos have been getting "Judy at Carnegie Hall"-level raves from the usual suspects for their Cuban sandwich. The combination of the "LTH effect" and Logan Square Cubans longing for a taste of something they can call their own have reached such a fever pitch that Alberto Ramos told Chicago Magazine's "Dish" newsletter that he sells 400 Cuban sandwiches a day. We visited El Cubanito just before lunchtime Saturday and asked Alberto Ramos about that claim. He only backtracked slightly, telling Chicagoist that while he's not certain of the exact number, "it's a lot."

It was also worth the trip. El Cubanito makes a very good Cuban sandwich. Everything about this sandwich is in perfect balance. The mojo (a savory marinade of garlic and citrus) on the roast pork never overpowers, and it compliments the pickle slices. Swiss cheese is perfectly melted between the pork and succulent ham slices, the ham side of the sandwich slathered in mustard. Alberto Ramos even went out of his way to show us the bread he uses, which he calls "water bread" specially made to order by Gonnella. For a comparison, we headed to Cafeteria Marianao on Milwaukee a couple hours later. We love Marianao, but their sandwiches suffer during rushes because there's no rhythm to their prep line. El Cubanito is even smaller, but their kitchen ran like a well-oiled machine during our visit, which makes all the difference. Grace under pressure is a wonderful thing, and it helps to make El Cubanito's Cuban sandwich a great one.

El Cubanito is located at 2555 N. Pulaski Road. They're open 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sunday. Phone your orders in at 773-235-2555. Image via "stevez" at LTHForum.