Chef Jefferson Alvarez’ Tasty Take On The Cubano Sandwich At Kitsilano’s Cacao

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STACKED is a Scout column that aims to dig down into the delicious details of Vancouver’s better sandwiches and burgers. From banh mi and burgers to sliders and reubens, the goal is to craft and catalog an archive of awesome that visitors and locals alike can reference when at their hungriest.

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by Andrew Morrison | You know that scene in the movie Chef where they make the Cubano sandwich and you almost lose your shit because you want to eat it so bad? Me too. This particularly delicious version of the sandwich riffs on the Miami style, which doesn’t include salami (true story, the Cubano originated in Key West and Tampa, Florida, not Cuba). It can be had at Cacao, chef Jefferson Alvarez’ “Progressive Latin” restaurant in the heart of Kitsilano.

1. It begins, as most sandwiches do, with the bread. This a ciabatta bun from Gastown’s The Birds & The Beets. It’s an odd choice — a hard and airy substitution for the more traditional Cuban loaf, which is softer and takes to butter better, but 100% thematic accuracy isn’t the deal with this thing.

2. This hot sauce is Alvarez’ own. It’s a thin dipper made with serrano, poblano and habanero peppers. It lights a low-intensity fire under the whole thing.

3. Mustard. A key ingredient of the classic Cubano.

4. Sliced pickles, another essential component of the Cubano. As you can tell from the ingredients so far, acidity is plays a major role here.

5. Long mojo-marinaded pork shoulder. The meat of the matter. It crumbles unbelievably on the tooth, its pork flavour not lost in its haze of citrus and garlic. What’s missing, though, is the added layer of glazed ham – as per the traditional Cubano. Yes, in addition to the absent salami, this sandwich also leaves out the ham. To some, this would be the equivalent of leaving out the bacon from a BLT, but they haven’t tried Alvarez’ mojo pork. It’s good enough on its own.

6. Swiss cheese, melted. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this sandwich layered with any other cheese. It’s there for the gooey.

7. A thin spread of butter. Traditional Cubanos have a lot more butter on them than the one at Cacao. It doesn’t suffer a taste deficit as a consequence, and this thing stopped trying to be 100% authentic from the bread down.

$12 | 1898 W 1st Ave | 604-731-5370 | KITSILANO | www.cacaovancouver.com

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