10 Best Cuban Sandwiches in St. Petersburg FL 2024

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10 Best Cuban Sandwiches in St. Petersburg FL 2024

Best Authentic Cuban Sandwiches in St. Pete

 

Salami or No Salami?

The Cuban Sandwich, as we know it today, was invented in Ybor City in the late 1800s by Cuban immigrants with some influence from Italian immigrants (salami), as well as German newcomers (mustard). Prior to this, in Cuba the medianoche and the mixto were two sandwiches that influenced today’s Cuban sandwich. There was also a time when the sandwich had turkey instead of pork. Another predecessor is the mixto sandwich, which is basically the Miami version of the Cuban. (A mixto sandwich in Spain is basically what we know as a grilled cheese sandwich with ham added.)

Later, when Miami picked up on the Cuban Sandwich, they left the salami off. Oddly, ironically, and likely because of the larger population, the Miami version is the more popular one. Because of this, many people think that the Miami version without salami is the true one, but it is not.

I think that if you are in the Tampa Bay area making Cubans, that the salami (or something similar) should be there. There’s a great article with more details on Today.com

There were several highly touted Cuban sandwiches that did not have the third meat, and they were excluded because of this. If you don’t see your favorite Cuban here, please go check to see if they only have roast pork and ham for the meats, and then you’ll know why. I make no apologies for this.

Missing Salami or a similar-to-salami third meat in addition to the roast pork and ham.
Bodega on Central
Habana Cafe
M & G Cuban Cafe
Simply Delicious
Smileys Cafe

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There are more places here making this Tampa sandwich Miami-style, but the above were mentioned the most.

Others & Other Reasons to Not be on the List

On Bodega’s Cuban, the bread is great! It comes from Casino Bakery in Ybor City. Everything else is made from scratch at Bodega, and they do use high quality ingredients. The pork seemed like very good quality—thick, meaty pieces—but it was unfortunately dry. There was no mustard. Bodega uses mayo – one that turned thin and watery when the sandwich was pressed. George (the owner) says they don’t use mustard or salami because he thinks it overpowers the pork. Mustard is the traditional condiment, and mayo is an option, but it is frowned upon by traditionalists. (All of the sandwiches on this list use a combination of both, or similar.)

La Segunda is famous for their Cuban bread, and many places tout that their Cuban sandwiches use La Segunda’s bread. On the sandwich I had at La Segunda the bread was too dry. It was like a slap in the face when I bit into it as I was expecting greatness. They just put a little bit of butter on the bottom of the press, and the top is left dry. They don’t flip and re-butter. I did love the special sauce though. It’s a mayonnaise and mustard blend with garlic powder and pepper. If you go, ask them if they can butter both sides of the bread when pressed.

Pipo’s is another one that people go crazy for, that I thought was just good. You have to be great to get on the list. Don’t even get me started on Pepo’s.

Most Likely, The Only Real Best Cubans List

Another important thing you should be aware of is that there are other publishers of “best of lists” that do not actually go to the establishments, or actually eat the food. Most don’t. Recently, one even pretended to. (Sounds ridiculous, right?) They just download photos from the internet, or embed Instagram posts from someone else. Instant best of list produced without having to leave the house.

That’s NOT how we do it.

We absolutely DO eat at all of the restaurants on all of our lists. (How can anyone recommend something they never experienced?)

Unfortunately, we’ve seen these junk lists a lot—from national and local publishers. We are also aware of a local publisher that offers paid placement in best-of-lists. There is no paid placement here.

I PERSONALLY ATE ALL OF THESE SANDWICHES, AND WENT TO ALL OF THESE PLACES, AND THESE ARE ALL OUR PHOTOS.

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To bring you this list, I personally consumed:
170,000 calories
1,095 grams of fat
2,782 mg of cholesterol
35,000 mg of sodium
858 grams of protein

That’s why all the other publishers just stay home and download photos off the internet, or use computer-generated lists from Yelp or similar.

Here are the Best Cuban Sandwiches in St. Pete for 2024

These are listed in RANDOM order except for the first three.

1. Old Southeast Market
1700 3rd St S
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 823-1992 (Tap to call)
Old Southeast Market

Old Southeast Market Cuban
Old Southeast Market Cuban

The Old Southeast Market is a funky little place tucked away off the beaten path in the Salt Creek Marina District. It’s a little convenience store with a food counter and an odd eclectic selection of things like gallon-size jugs of hot sauce, normal size bottles of hot sauce, several varieties of tortilla chips, jarred queso dips, candy, sodas, water. More than half of their inventory is wine and beer, and there is a small cigar humidor.

The Cuban sandwich here is everything a Cuban sandwich should be. It’s crunchy on the outside without being dry, then you get that wonderful slam to the tastebuds of sourness from the pickles and vinegar sting from the mustard which is smoothed out by the mayonnaise, and finally the salty, chewy unctuousness of the meats. Mmm! The menu describes the sandwich as having “Cuban Sauce”, which I was told is a mixture of mustard and mayonnaise with spices.

The trick to this one is that the cook slathered the top of the bread with butter and then pressed it for five minutes with a large brick on top of the press. Then he flipped it, buttered again, and pressed for another five minutes with the heavy brick on top.

 

2. Tudays 2 Day Deli
(NOTE: Two days before we published (April 30), Tudays announced that they were closing.)
7108 9th Ave N
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
Tudays Website

Tudays 2 Day Deli Cuban
Tudays 2 Day Deli Cuban

Tudays is another great example of an unassuming, off-the-beaten-path place putting out great Cuban sandwiches. Everything sings in perfect harmony on this one – the meats, the cheese, pickles, mustard, mayo and perfectly pressed bread from La Segunda. This one is similar to the sandwich at Old Southeast Market, but not quite as messy and slathered in as much butter, but it is still impeccably moist and flavorful. Tudays is in a strip mall that’s easy to miss, and they are about a block or two from the former Pesky Pelican, which is now Tiki Tim’s. They are coming up on three years old, and they are definitely worth the trip out to the west side of St. Pete.

 

3. Boulevard Burgers & Tap House
5905 Gulf Blvd
St Pete Beach, FL 33706
(727) 201-4906 (Tap to call)
Boulevard Burgers Website

Boulevard Burgers Cuban Sandwich
Boulevard Burgers Cuban Sandwich

Boulevard Burger’s Cuban was another one with a generous slathering of butter and pressed like the cook was mad at it. (In a good way.) It was oozing with lots of melted Swiss cheese with nice crunchy pickles, moist, salty, flavorful meats with everything creating a perfect mouthfeel and full of flavor where you just can’t stop eating it. Obviously, they specialize in burgers which are really good, but they also make one of the best Cuban  sandwiches in the area. Don’t miss this one.

 

The Floridian
230 107th Ave
Treasure Island, FL 33706
(727) 367-6662 (Tap to call)
The Floridian Website

The Floridian Cuban
The Floridian Cuban

If The Floridian’s Cuban Sandwich was a movie, it would be a cult classic. Lori and I went when they opened at 11 am on a Saturday morning to find a line out the door and around the building. We spent about an hour total from waiting to place the order, waiting for the sandwich to come out, and then each eating half of it. In those 60-minutes, we roughly counted about 90 sandwiches between takeout and dine-in. It’s truly an excellent sandwich. They had nine award plaques on their wall where their sandwich won from years past.

The sandwich is loaded with ham, spiced pork, Genoa salami, imported Swiss cheese, dill pickles, mustard & mayo on nice crunchy fresh Cuban bread.

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Caribbean Cafe
4801 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
(727) 327-7202 (Tap to call)
Caribbean Cafe Website

Caribbean Cafe Cuban
Caribbean Cafe Cuban

I’m starting to see a trend that many, but not all, of the best Cuban sandwiches are found in unlikely places, hidden gems, and hole-in-the-walls. Caribbean Cafe just feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, like it’s stranded on a deserted island waving and screaming “hey!” to the passing ship for attention. It’s actually not. It’s only five miles out of downtown on Central Avenue near the intersection of 49th St.

Coincidentally, their Cuban sandwich is so scrumptious that the first bite will have you closing your eyes in pleasure and dreaming of being on an island where you can hear the waves and seagulls. It has ham, salami, “Cuban” pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickle, mustard and mayo on fresh Cuban bread. Note: They close at 6pm, 3pm on Saturday, and closed on Sunday.

 

The Burg Bar & Grill
1752 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 894-2874 (Tap to call)
The Burg Website

The Burg Bar Cuban Sandwich
The Burg Cuban Sandwich (Photo: Haley Haman)

The Burg Bar & Grill is a small space that’s big on flavor with lots of good stuff on a diverse menu. A couple of my other favorites are their Gyro Burger and Chicago Dog. The Burg Cuban Sandwich – ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, mayo. It’s super delicious!

 

The Toasted Monkey
678 75th Ave
St Pete Beach, FL 33706
(727) 360-5800 (Tap to call)
Toasted Monkey Website

Toasted Monkey Cuban Sandwich
Toasted Monkey Cuban Sandwich

The Toasted Monkey Cuban has great flavors with some smokiness in the ham and mouthwatering mojo marinade in the abundant roast pork. The pork even had a little bit of bark on it that was quite nice. It was pressed with just a tiny bit of butter to get some golden color and mild crunch on the bread. The only ding that I could give this one is that there may be too much pork, making it unbalanced, but really? Who should really complain about more pork, especially when it tastes this good.

 

Gulfport Brewery + Eatery
3007 Beach Blvd S
Gulfport, FL 33707
(727) 954-4109 (Tap to call)
Gulfport Brewery Website

Gulfport Brewery Cuban Sandwich
Gulfport Brewery Cuban Sandwich

Gulfport Brewery + Eatery is on the mellow main drag of Beach Boulevard in the beloved quaint and quirky town of Gulfport, which sits in between St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach. Like several of the businesses on this strip that cater to locals and tourists alike, the brewery resides in a former house.

Coincidentally, the warm atmosphere and friendly staff make you feel like you are at home, or relaxing at a friend’s. A friend, by the way, that knows how to make really great Cuban Sandwiches.

Something that really stood out in a general, but in a big way from the first bite to last on this one was freshness. The bread seemed like it was just baked. The pickle was bright and crunchy. The ham and salami seemed like they just came off the meat slicer, and the pork was moist, juicy and flavorful. The mustard aioli has the mustard a little more dominant, which made it even better. Pair this one with Gulfport Gold Ale and you can’t go wrong.

 

No Vacancy
937 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
(727) 308-7878 (Tap to call)
No Vacancy Website

No Vacancy Cubano
No Vacancy Cubano (Photo: Lori Brown)

No Vacancy’s sandwich is packed with savory deliciousness. It’s a crunchy, chewy, flavor explosion in your mouth. Their “Cubano” has ham, mojo pork, salami, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard aioli.

 

Dirty Laundry
1742 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 493-0040 (Tap to call)
Dirty Laundry Website

Dirty Laundry Cuban Sandwich
Dirty Laundry Cuban Sandwich (Photo: Haley Haman)

From Haley’s review: “I admittedly had the Cuban Sandwich twice. I just really love a good sandwich, especially a Cuban as it’s juicy, savory, flavorful and pressed all together perfectly. Dirty Laundry’s Cuban sandwich is packed with mojo roast pork, salami, ham, pickles, mustard aioli, Swiss cheese, all in between La Segunda Cuban bread. It’s really, really good to the point where I had it twice in one month.”

Please tell us your favorite Cuban Sandwiches in the comments below.

10 Best Cuban Sandwiches in St. Petersburg FL 2024

The best authentic Cuban Sandwiches all personally picked by our local team - all of them tasted and photographed by us.

DISCLAIMER: Kevin, Lori, Abby, Haley, Lindsey & Mahika do not dine anonymously (this would be impossible) and we sometimes get free food (though never expected). However, we dine with the locals and we support our own. You will always get honesty in a respectful manner. We do not include any large national or regional chains in our ratings and reviews. We focus on independent locally owned eateries exclusively.

PLEASE NOTE: Reviews reflect a certain moment in time. Some restaurants stay extremely consistent over many years, and some change for the better or worse. Some things that may change are: chefs, recipes, food suppliers, ingredients, philosophies, ownership, etc. We always hope that you have the same good, or great experience we had.
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12 Responses

  • I have been eating the Cuban sandwich for months te than 30 years when my dad used to take me there…now I take my kids there and they love it. There weren’t other Cuban sandwich places nearby then but they started a trend since then I think…The Floridian really is consistently the best!

    • You obviously didn’t actually read the article. There are three paragraphs at the top explaining why Bodega is not on the list.

      I think that if you are in the Tampa Bay area making Cubans, that the salami (or something similar) should be there. There’s a great article with more details on Today.com

      There were several highly touted Cuban sandwiches that did not have the third meat, and they were excluded because of this. If you don’t see your favorite Cuban here, please go check to see if they only have roast pork and ham for the meats, and then you’ll know why. I make no apologies for this.

      On Bodega’s Cuban, the bread is great! It comes from Casino Bakery in Ybor City. Everything else is made from scratch at Bodega, and they do use high quality ingredients. The pork seemed like very good quality—thick, meaty pieces—but it was unfortunately dry. There was no mustard. Bodega uses mayo – one that turned thin and watery when the sandwich was pressed. George (the owner) says they don’t use mustard or salami because he thinks it overpowers the pork. Mustard is the traditional condiment, and mayo is an option, but it is frowned upon by traditionalists. (All of the sandwiches on this list use a combination of both, or similar.)

      • Seems you consider the pressed as the traditional, which it isn’t….it became popular sometime in the early ’70s….I was delivering for The Silver Ring, Ybor City in the late ’60s…many thousands made daily…but none pressed back then…but I like them too…because the cheese becomes a little more prominent….not complaining, but Traditional it ain’t….No ones to attest on a Devil Crab?

        • That’s good information. Thank you. I am doing more research, and may be updating the intro in the future.

    • You obviously didn’t actually read the article. Right at the top I specifically list places, including Simply Delicious, that were disqualified for not knowing how to make a true Tampa Bay Cuban which is includes salami.

  • You must try Citgo gas station in Gulfport 22ave s/54st..better than southeast market

    • I second the vote for the Citco station (everything else there is not very good – but the Cuban??? fantastic)

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