Top 5 Best Cuban Sandwiches in St. Petersburg FL 2019

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I like to end all things on a good note, so this one will start with the somewhat negative.

Everyone is going to hate me because Bodega didn't make the top 5 list of Cuban Sandwiches.

People are going to go insane.

I will probably have to go into the witness protection program, but Bodega's Cuban did not win my heart, or taste buds.

Lots of people rave and rave and rave about the Cuban Sandwich at Bodega, but my experience last week had me concluding that the sandwich was good ... almost very good. Some have proclaimed it the best in all of Tampa Bay.

We decided a long time ago that we don't write negative reviews, but with the massive popularity of this sandwich, I feel compelled to explain.

This is one of the parts of the process of making these lists that you don't normally know about. The items we ate that didn't make the list. There's a lot more eating going on than you realize. (Don't even ask me about one of the chilis I ate last week. I'm still scarred.)

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.

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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.

I don't take off points for no salami, but I do add points if a sandwich includes it. More on that at the end.

I felt that the pickles were too mild, like they hadn't finished fermenting yet.

I really missed the sourness that the mild pickles didn't deliver, and the vinegar sting that was absent since there was no mustard.

Dry pork can be fixed, but the style of this sandwich is not for me. Sorry folks.

Here it is below. It looks good, and it is. Go try it, and some of the other really good Cuban food at Bodega.

Bodega Cuban Sandwich

Bodega Cuban Sandwich (Photo credit: Kevin Godbee)

The second runner-up that is also quite popular is Pipo's. (We do listen to what others are saying.) This is another one that people go crazy for, that I thought was good. Pictured below from the location at The Manhattan Casino. Yay for salami, and mustard! Pipo's, like Bodega, also has some other great Cuban food.

Pipo's Cuban

Pipo's Cuban (Photo credit: Lori Brown)

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Before we get into the list, an 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.

We absolutely DO. (How can anyone recommend something they never experienced?)

Unfortunately, we've seen it 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.

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

Here are the 5 Best Cuban Sandwiches in St. Pete for 2019 - Ranked

1. No Vacancy

No Vacancy
937 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
(727) 308-7878
https://novacancydtsp.com

No Vacancy Cubano

No Vacancy Cubano (Photo credit: Lori Brown)

Cubano - Ham, Mojo Pork, Salami, Swiss, Pickles, Mustard Aioli, Cuban Bread.

Yep. It's that good that it gets numero uno! Savory deliciousness, crunchy, chewy flavor explosion in your mouth.

2. The Galley

The Galley
27 4th St North
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 575-7071
http://thegalleystpete.com

The Galley Cuban

The Galley Cuban (Photo credit: Kevin Godbee)

The Galley's Cuban Sandwich is excellent - Mustard Aioli, Tender Mojo Pork, Ham, Salami, House Pickles and Havarti Cheese on Real Cuban Bread. (It comes with fries, but I was trying to be good with the salad.)

3. The Lure

The Lure
661 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 914-8000
https://thelurestpete.com

The Nod at The Lure

The Nod at The Lure (Photo credit: Lori Brown)

The Nod - Mojo marinated pulled pork, Genoa salami, and swiss on Cuban bread, pressed and dressed with pickle and dijonnaise.

The Nod, is named as such because it is a nod to the Cuban Sandwich. Chef Kevin told us that there are so many Cuban sandwiches out there, and so many disputes as to who has the best one, that The Lure decided to NOT do a Cuban, but to rather do a twist on one.

The main difference from the traditional Cuban is that the pork is pulled / shredded rather than sliced pork, and the dressing is dijonnaise, instead of mustard.

The pressing is nicely done, and I liked the char on the bread, and the overall flavor. It is a more mild version, a little smoother, and less sharp than a traditional Cuban.

4. The Burg Bar & Grill

The Burg Bar & Grill
1752 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 894-2874
http://theburgbar.com

The Burg Bar and Grill Cuban

The Burg Bar and Grill Cuban (Photo credit: Kevin Godbee)

The Burg Cuban Sandwich - Ham, Pork, Salami, Swiss, Pickles, Mustard, Mayo.

It's super delicious!

5. Stillwaters Tavern

Stillwaters Tavern
224 Beach Dr NE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 350-1019
https://stillwaterstavern.com

Stillwaters Tavern Cuban Sandwich

Stillwaters Tavern Cuban Sandwich (Photo credit: Lori Brown)

Cuban - Smoked Ham, Slow Roasted Fried Mojo Pork, Pickle Apple Slaw, Swiss Cheese.

Stillwaters has the only sandwich that made the list that doesn't have salami, and they change it up with the pickle apple slaw. It's delectable, full of flavor, longer and pressed thinner - just superb!


Salami or No Salami?

The Cuban Sandwich was invented in Ybor City in the late 1800s by Cuban immigrants with some influence from Italian immigrants. The original included a Spanish dried sausage that was later replaced with salami.

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 should be there. There's a great article with more details on Today.com

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

Top 5 Best Cuban Sandwiches in St. Petersburg FL 2019
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The Cuban Sandwich was invented in Ybor City (Tampa) by Cuban immigrants, with some influence from the Italians in the area in the late 1800s / early 1900s.

DISCLAIMER: Kevin, Lori, Abby, & Haley 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.
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21 Responses

  1. Kevin, I agree with you about Bodega. I always found it too dry. I'm heading to No Vacancy on Friday and am excited to try the Cuban there.
    • Kevin Godbee Kevin Godbee
      Thanks Sue!
    • The Floridian has the best Cuban
      • Kevin Godbee Kevin Godbee
        Elliot, I've heard about theirs. We will definitely have to try it for a future review.
  2. Love this review. WHAT?? No Vacancy is the best? Can't wait to try it. I've been surprised by everything I've eaten there, the food is great, so I guess it's possible I'll agree with you! Bodega-- it's the Lechon sandwich you want! That is the one we go insane for. I never get the Cuban (no salami, why bother).
    • Kevin Godbee Kevin Godbee
      Thanks Julie!
  3. Kevin, I am so happy to find someone who shares my exact opinion about Bodega's Cuban sandwich. It's just being honest and objective, not negative, because all taste buds are not the same. I, too, find Bodega's Cuban sandwich to be inferior for lack of taste and poor quality meats... the only good part is their locally sourced Cuban bread. And don't get me started on their black beans which tasted like they were from some kind of lackluster add-water-and- stir kit! I don't think there is any other popular sandwich in Tampa Bay that receives as much attention and stirs such lively debate as the Cuban sandwich! I grew up here and have roots in Ybor City, once the home of the iconic Silver Ring who, in my opinion, were the quintessential masters of the Cuban sandwich. We'd drive 'all the way' from St. Petersburg solely to buy them for our family and friends! So happy to see The Burg Bar and Grill made the list... they rock in the sandwich lane, period! I highly recommend you try the very creative and AMPLE Cuban sandwich at Simply Delicious, 2128 9th Ave North, when you get a chance... it's bold and AWESOME!
    • Kevin Godbee Kevin Godbee
      Thanks Danny! We'll have to give them a try.
  4. They MUST don't know about SIMPLY DELICIOUS. That's the best Cuban sandwich shop in St.pete.
    • Kevin Godbee Kevin Godbee
      Thanks Richard. Simply delicious is on our list to try soon.
  5. I have to agree with Richard. Simply Delicious ala right off 9th ave right across from old Ed White hospital is the best Cuban in St Pete. It's called Country Market and Deli on Google maps and you will not be disappointed!!!
    • Kevin Godbee Kevin Godbee
      Thanks Matt. Simply delicious is on our list to try soon.
  6. Bold pick Kevin..but I have to say I completely agree. I had the cuban the other night at No Vacancy and couldn't believe how good it was. I was expecting standard hipster bar quality, but boy was I wrong. There was something special going between that bread, maybe something to do with the fresh crunchy pickles. Only complaint is that they don't have a house made hot sauce to go with it.
    • Kevin Godbee Kevin Godbee
      Thanks David. Glad you enjoyed it!
    • Try pressed Cuban at Biffs burgers 49th street north the best .he roster and smokes his own pork.
  7. I agree with you on Bodega. I tried it more than once to see what I may have missed the first time with the same results.
    • Kevin Godbee Kevin Godbee
      Thanks Nancy!
  8. My wife and I love the Cubans at Caribbean Cafe, and their black beans and rice is delish too.
    • Kevin Godbee Kevin Godbee
      Thanks for the recommendation, Dave. We will have to try them out!
  9. Try M&G Cuban Cafe on 46th Ave & 49th St. N. It's my wife & my personal fave & very inexpensive to boot. We did the wait-in-line thing at Bodega once & while we enjoyed it, we wouldn't roast in the sun again.
    • Kevin Godbee Kevin Godbee
      Thanks Rodney. I'll have to try M&G Cuban Cafe.

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