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!

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