Neighborhood Secrets: Best Cuban Sandwich at Havana Chelsea

I don’t have a book in front of me to confirm this, but I believe either Jim Leff or Robert Sietsema includes Havana-Chelsea in their picks of New York’s best ethnic food. If I’m wrong, then let’s pretend I have my own book of New York’s best ethnic food. Filed under “Best Cuban Sandwiches” check out Havana Chelsea—it’s my newest discovery:

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What’s funny is I’ve passed here 8,000 times always incredulous at the Neon assertion: “Best Cuban Sandwich.” What made me give it a shot? I was bored. I was hungry. It was late and I needed food.

Well let me tell you: this Cuban sandwich is terrific. Really. And I’ve had my fair share of Cuban sandwiches. When I lived in L.A. I made 30-minute drives to Silverlake to eat Cuban sandwiches at an un-airconditioned dump at the side of the road. (Ok, it wasn’t a dump. But it didn’t have air conditioning.)

Chelsea-Havana’s are better. Why? I think it’s the bread: the bread is buttery and flaky and PERFECTLY pressed. On the inside is the traditional ham and pork and pickles and maybe a little mustard. This Cuban doesn’t pack a lot of heat, but it does pack a lot of flavor and enjoyment for a mere pittance: $5!

The place does lots of business lunch time. I sat at the counter while streams of Cuban men came in and out ordering Cubans to go while two women and two men frantically worked behind the counter. Some of the other items looked intriguing: I think there was something with squid and something else with…umm…something exotic. Maybe next time I will try those. But for now, when I’m craving a Cuban, I know where to go!

7 comments

  1. where is this place in silverlake!? i must have it! since you seem to enjoy all the same food as me ( ok ok we like to eat everything!) and now i know uve lived in LA can u post a list of favorite la eats!??

    thanks!

    stephanie

  2. Stephanie,

    The name escapes me right now, but you can find it in Jonathan Gold’s amazing LA-eating guide “Counter Intelligence.” That book was the best thing I ever bought and sent me on some culinary adventures I’ll never forget. I believe Jonathan just won a James Beard award—now he’s certifiably brilliant. Check it out!

    Adam

  3. i’ve been the chelsea-havana once when hanging out at a friend’s place near by and finding it in zagats as the only affordable place in her neighborhood. the cubans are great, but the rest of the food is pretty yummy and very reasonable too if i remember correctly.

  4. Even better is El Sitio on Roosevelt Ave about 68th St. Woodside/Jackson Heights, Queens. No 7 train easily gets you there. At $3.50 @ a genuine bargain.

  5. I am Cuban and I am a sandwich lover,but one thing I would never understand is a Cuban sandwich without a splash of catsup !

  6. I live in bevely mass. and make cuban sanwiches often ( as I am Half Cuban ) and need to find a local bakery to purchase “real Cuban bread ” anything would help !!! thanks…

  7. The neon sign outside says it all “BEST CUBAN SANDWICH” is at CASA HAVANA 190 8 Ave.{19-20 St.}