Paladar - Sandwich Cubano
Sandwich Cubano

Rich, roasted, shredded Niman pork, boiled ham, melty Swiss, an even layer of sweet and tangy pickles, whole grain mustard, creamy mayo, and a buttery, crusty, fresh roll, hot pressed, melding it all together.


No, seriously. If I could marry a sandwich, this would be it.

Each bite of the Cubano gives you everything one could ever wish for in a sandwich. Meatiness. Meltiness. Crunch. Chew. An explosion of flavors in perfect harmony. Mee-ow.

It’s no wonder that this bright little Cuban café is always packed at lunchtime.

Paladar Cafe Cubano, San Francisco FiDi
Paladar Café Cubano, San Francisco FiDi

Lunchtime at Paladar
Lunchtime at Paladar

The Latin music keeps things lively — as does the addictive Café con Leche, and the Mexican Coca-Cola made with real cane sugar, all 39 grams/serving of it.

 Mexican Coca-Cola
Mexican Coca-Cola

The regulars are stoked to be back — on my first visit, I actually overheard a dapper gentleman in a panama hat and seersucker exclaim to no one in particular, “Man! This place rocks!” as he salsa’d out the door.

And then there is the food — warm, inviting, and satisfying.

Picadillo, Paladar Cafe Cubano
Picadillo, Paladar Café Cubano

Other than wanting to marry the Cuban Sandwich, you may also find yourself wanting to have babies with the Picadillo Cubano estilo Elena.

Niman ground beef, browned and seasoned with sautéed onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, green olives, raisins, and herbs, the result is an intensely aromatic Cuban version of an Italian ragu. The Picadillo is served with fluffy white rice and fried sweet plantains.

The sandwiches and mains are also served with a side of mixed greens. Nice touch. Sometimes it is drizzled with a heavenly coconut milk dressing, other times with a garlic aioli.

In Cuba, paladares are small family-run restaurants that serve home-cooking. While the space at Paladar Café Cubano may be small, the flavors are big. Big, bold, and comforting. This is food that makes you smile.

Paladar Café Cubano
329 Kearny St
(between Bush St & Pine St)
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 398-4899

Paladar: Cuban Sando, I think I love you 7 July,2009Stephanie Hua


Stephanie Hua

Stephanie Hua is the creator of Lick My Spoon, a place for all things delicious. So far she has learned that she very much enjoys salted caramel anything, a good soup dumpling is worth a scalded tongue, and there is no room in life for non-fat cheese and crappy chocolate. Also, a barrel of cheese balls never ends well.

Stephanie has been known to choose her company based on how much they can pack it down. Ability to endure cramped quarters, sketchy back alleys, and uncharted paths to seek out that special dish is also a plus in her book. If you fit the criteria, drop a note. You’ll probably get along just fine.

Stephanie’s writing and photography have been featured in Fodor’s Travel, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Serious Eats, and Sundance Channel. Follow her on Facebook and @lickmyspoon.

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