Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cuban Sandwich Cafe

North of the Mueller development, tucked away in a slightly obscure location, sits Cuban Sandwich Cafe, which is both a cafe and bakery. I've known of this place for a good 6 to 9 months now, but rarely make it to the northeast part of town (it's on Briarcliff, off of Berkman). A Saturday afternoon was a good time to avoid traffic issues, and to meet up with a friend who doesn't live too far from there. You walk into the cafe and immediately see their pastry case. I was having hard time getting a shot of the case, but then I realized, the front window reflects perfectly in the glass!
Ordering at the counter, my friend picked ropa vieja, one of her favorite dishes. She was extremely pleased with it, saying it was one of the best she's had in Austin. The stewed beef was tender and flavorful, as was the rice and black beans, which had a buttery-ness to them. The  yuca didn't do a whole lot for me, but it never has. Too starchy.
I figured, if I am eating at a place called Cuban Sandwich Cafe, I ought to order a Cuban sandwich, and I can never pass up maduros (sauteed plantains). Hearty portion, nicely pressed, ham and lechon (stewed pork). Maybe a bit heavy on the yellow mustard, but overall, a tasty sandwich. I can't say that I am an expert on Cuban sandwiches by any stretch, but I enjoyed it. The maduros could have used a touch of salt (this coming from me, *shocking*!), but were tender, and had the nice caramelized bits around the edges.
After eating, I took a good look back at the pastry counter. I got one of the cinnamon sugar twists, that you see in the bottom of the case, and a coconut macaroon to its right. The twist had sort of an odd sweetness to me...almost as if it had a fruit filling in it, but it didn't. I couldn't really place it, almost like pineapple. Fairly good flaky texture, but the taste somehow wasn't my favorite. The macaroon was better, nice and coconutty, but a bit dense.

If you're thinking of heading up there, you might want to call to see if they are open. Their website, Facebook page, and this sign on the door all list different hours; it would certainly help if they were all consistent! I guess I'd go with the door sign, Mon - Sat, 8:30 am - 7pm, closed on Sunday.
There was a woman in there eating tamal cubano, and I guess I will have to go back to find out how they differ from Mexican (or even NEW Mexican) tamales!


  1. I've heard mixed reviews about this place and was glad to read your review (cause I trust your opinion). I'm not fond of ropa vieja, but that plate sure looks tasty! I think I'll stop in and have that sammich, though. Maybe I'll ask for light mustard. Be curious to hear your thoughts on that tamal.