Site reader and part-time Amateur Gourmet publicisit Vidiot has been hawking me for a while to go to Kool Korners on 14th Street for their Cuban Sandwich. “Go to Kool Korners on 14th street!” he will write. “Eat their cuban sandwich!”
Today, my stomach and brain battled for control of the steering wheel as I figured out my lunch destination.
Stomach: Listen to Vidiot! Let’s eat a cuban!
Brain: But we have work, you scoundrel. A final! In Jewish law!
Stomach: Screw the Jews! The Cubans have better music.
Brain: They do? What about Fiddler on the Roof?
Stomach: Screw Fidddler, they did The Buena Vista Social Club.
Having won his point, Stomach drove us over to Kool Korners which had a deceptive exterior.
It looked like a run down grocery store. I loved the mystery of it all.
Once inside, I realized what I had stumbled upon: a well-kept Atlanta secret! The place was packed with businessmen, young people, old people, and Sally Struthers all lined up for Cuban sandwiches. I tried to pick a good photo spot to capture it for you but nothing really worked. I’d rather paint the place with words.
The place was deceptively decrepit. Meaning, the walls were dirty, the shelves dusty, the decor similar to that of a run down Shell station. Yet, the people there were vibrant: an old man behind the counter chatted up a customer in Spanish. A woman carried a large pot with a beautifully roasted hunk of meat. Other women manned (or womanned) the cash registers.
When I was up to plate I ordered the classic cuban. I also bought a bag of Guacamole Doritos and an Iced Tea.
I carried my purchases outside where there was one table, already occupied. So I went to my car and ate behind the wheel with the windows open. Here’s what the sandwich looked like:
Now I’m no Cuban sandwich expert, but is this really a classic cuban? Don’t get me wrong: everything tasted great. The meat was savory, the cheese sweet and perfectly gluey. But the presence of mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion made it taste a little like a Subway hero.
When I was in L.A. this summer, I ate Cuban sandwiches at a place called Cafe Tropical in Silverlake. At first I thought they were terrible. I’m not a ham person. I’m not a cheese person. I sometimes like pieces of pork. I do like pressed bread. In any case, a few visits later I was hooked. But the sandwich really had no accoutrements: there was the ham, the cheese, the pork and the bread.
So maybe L.A. made me a Cuban sandwich snob? If it did, it doesn’t matter because I really enjoyed the Kool Korners version.
What I did not enjoy were these Dorito guacamole chips:
They tasted like cardboard triangles dusted with chemistry set guacamole. Literally: powdered guacamole is not a good thing.
All in all, I enjoyed my lunch. Thanks Vidiot for the suggestion!