Today I decided to take a new approach to my food reviews, the competitive comparison. I think that in order to be fair, I need to try a couple different places that do the same type of food before I declare my loyalty to any one of them (this means that I’ll have to try another gelato place at some time…).
So, my first comparison is Cuban Sandwiches, pitting Paseo against Paladar Cubano. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I’m a very big fan of Paseo, especially the Cuban Press. But, I wanted to keep an open mind and see what Paladar Cubano had to offer. Paladar Cubano is actually a restaurant on wheels, parked at the corner of Aurora and 90th. When you walk up, the first thing you notice is the Latin Music playing. This probably owes to the fact that the owner is also a local musician. I placed my order of the classic Cubano Sandwich, a combination of roast pork, ham, cheese, pickles and mustard, pressed in between two halves of cuban bread.
At Paladar Cubano, all of the orders are made at the time you place them, so there is a little wait. But you can sit at the picnic tables under the tent and listen to the music while savoring the aromas of melted cheese and roasted pork. After about 5 minutes I received my sandwich, and headed home, excited to taste another Cuban sandwich and compare it to Paseo.
The first thing I noticed is the size. The Paladar Cubano sandwich is contained, where as the Paseo press was heaping and overflowing. When I took a bite, it was definitely a good sandwich. The bread was great, crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside. The ham was good, the cheese warm and melted, and everything was cut nicely with a little acidity from the pickles. However, the mustard was a bit overpowering, and the pork was completely overshadowed by all of the other ingredients.
By contrast, the Paseo sandwich is stuffed full of roasted pork, and onions which are absolutely the star of the show. The ham and the cheese are much more muted, and definitely an accompaniment. Everything is set off by the delicious garlic aioli type sauce, and you get that little bit of acidity from some banana peppers.
When it comes to authenticity, I think that the Paladar Cubano sandwich is much more what you would expect when you think of a Cuban press. But with Paseo, the pork is much more flavorful and pronounced. The sauce balances it incredibly well, and isn’t as overpowering as yellow mustard. When I finished the Press from Paseo, I sat back on the couch and just savored it. When I finished the Cubano, I was left wanting a little bit more.
Overall, the cubano is a very good sandwich, and there are definitely worse meals to spend $8 on. But for my money, I’m going to Paseo. My allegiance has officially been pledged.
Final Verdict: Paseo by a landslide. Paseo – 4.5 Stars, Paladar Cubano – 3 Stars.