A Good Cuban
In Houston, it apparently takes a good Greek to know a good Cuban.
That's all I could imagine when I bit into the Andros Special at Andros Fine Foods on Fondren. I'd been scouring the town for a good Cuban sandwich for a while, having been introduced to the succulent possibilities of the form through trips to Miami, but had been for the most part disappointed. Oh, I found a decent enough version at Cafe Latina, but the sandwich there suffered from too much mustard and one slice of pickle too many; it also suffered from only being available at breakfast, which didn't help me much when I was hungering for one at lunch.
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Cafe Miami did a little better. The meat in its sandwich, at least, was nice and moist. Still, the flavor didn't leap out at me the way it did when I chowed down on a Cuban sandwich in Miami's Little Havana. Then I wandered into Andros Fine Foods and ordered the Andros Special. The server shouted to the cooks something different: "One Cuban special." And indeed it was. Take a foot-long piece of Cuban bread, baste it with butter, fill it with sweet ham, Swiss cheese and succulent roasted pork with more than a hint of garlic, gently grill it, squeezing it until the cheese oozes from each side. That's a Cuban sandwich, and that's what, along with some bright yellow peperoncini peppers, a couple of crisp black olives and a mound of fries, ended up in front of my delighted face for $3.99. All that was left for me to do was lean in and enjoy. I did. Who needs Florida?
The East Enders
The East End may have such standouts as the original Ninfa's, Shanghai Red's and Mandola's Deli, but regardless, it too frequently gets bypassed when folks think about eating out. That's why I was pleased to see that the East End Area Chamber of Commerce has come out with an East End Restaurant Guide to point up the variety of cuisines available east of downtown and west of the Ship Channel.
Granted, the guide is the product of a promotional mind (why else would it include a pair of McDonald's?), but its list of 42 eateries nonetheless does a fairly good job of hinting at what's available in the original Chinatown, the Second Ward and Magnolia Park, among other areas. The guide includes a map with each restaurant marked, as well as brief descriptions of each. It's being distributed free at the Convention and Visitors Bureau and a number of area hotels and restaurants, but if you can't find one and would like to check it out, it's also available for $2.50 by mail from the East End Area Chamber of Commerce, 4600 Gulf Freeway, Houston, Texas 77023.
-- Paul Galvani