The secret to the terrific Cuban sandwiches at the newly opened food truck South Beach Cuisine and Espresso is the bread that isn’t fully cooked.
Truck owners Jennifer and James Covello, who spent the first two decades of his life in Florida, have the bread shipped here from Miami. “It’s par-baked and overnighted,” said Jennifer. “We finish it off when we press the sandwich. Isn’t it so buttery and delish?”
She’s right. It is buttery and delish.
The Cuban-themed sandwiches — one made with pork and the other beef — are grilled on a flat-top griddle with a weighted press that compresses the sandwich as it grills. The bread takes on a satisfying intersection of crunchy and squishy.
The food truck’s menu is Cuban-themed cuisine commonly found in Miami, where James grew up eating ropa vieja, empanadas and croquettas (which all someday might make it onto the menu, too).
The sandwiches are an excellent glimpse of the Miami-brushed flavors of the truck. Here’s a deeper look at the truck and its menu, as well as the story of how the Covellos wound up owning a cafe and a food truck.
Accidental restaurant owners: Food trucks need a commissary kitchen to complete their food prep. The Covellos surfed Craigslist to find such a kitchen and earlier this year stumbled on a small sandwich cafe for sale in Parkland. They bought the Organic Lunchbox near Pacific Lutheran University and a week later, they were making sandwiches. The cafe now keeps limited lunch hours and is focused on catering and bulk orders made in advance. It also serves as the home base for their truck.
The truck: Find a menu of Cuban-themed sandwiches and burgers, a Philly sandwich, chicken sandwich and frequent specials — from tacos to brisket sandwiches, grilled chicken and steak with Cuban/Miami flourishes.
Where’s it at? That depends on the day of the week. The best way to find the truck is to follow facebook.com/southbeachcuisine. The truck has been serving in Eatonville, Parkland and Tacoma since it opened in August.
The Cubano: The famous sandwich comes with pork, cheese, pickles and yellow mustard. I appreciated the thinner bread not only because of the crackle of the exterior that broke to a soft interior, but because the bread didn’t overshadow the fillings, a chief complaint I have with Cuban sandwiches. Swipes of yellow mustard bookended delicate slices of dill pickle. The one-two porky punch came from thin layers of ham and roasted pork, creating multiple layers of succulence along with melted Swiss cheese. A Cubano is $10, with a side of plantains.
Pan con bistec: Think of this as the beefy counterpoint to a pork Cubano. A tangy marinade clung to thin strips of grilled steak layered with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and a secret weapon for extra crunch — shoestring potatoes, a standard ingredient in Cuban-style sandwiches and burgers found in Miami. A bistec sandwich, built on the same sandwich as the Cubano, is $10, with a side of plantains.
Plantain chips: Forget tortilla chips for salsa dipping, plantain chips are so much tastier. The plantain is a starchier, less sweet banana. Sliced and fried plantains produce the perfect dipping vessel for Cuban salsa. The Covellos seal the fried plantains in plastic bags so they stay fresh. Plantains come with sandwiches as a side, or can be ordered separately for $3.50.
The salsa: Their Cuban-style tomato salsa served with the plantains is extra tangy from vinegar, a little bit smoky and packs a bit of a chile punch.
Coffee? Yes, they have espresso and Italian sodas.