Here, Eat This

Houston's Best Sandwiches: Jamón y Queso Sandwich de Miga at Manena's

The amazingly simple Jamon y Queso Sandwich de Miga from Manena's takes me back to the after-pool snacks of my youth.
The amazingly simple Jamon y Queso Sandwich de Miga from Manena's takes me back to the after-pool snacks of my youth. Photo by Jeff Balke

We are in search of Houston's best sandwiches because we love sandwiches and we love Houston!

When I was a kid, I had a neighborhood whose family had a pool. Every kid wanted to hang out at their pool for obvious reasons — we didn't have a public pool nearby and what God-fearing, warm-blooded American boy doesn't want to swim in the summer? His mom would make us sandwiches for a snack when swimming. They consisted of white bread (probably Wonder, but I don't recall), bologna and mayonnaise. That was it.

I recall them vividly because the bread stuck to the roof of my mouth and my bite mark left a red ring on the sandwich from the Kool-Aid (yeah, suckas, Kool-Aid!). It's the kind of sandwich a kid loves and scarfs down before diving to the bottom of the deep end.

This is why the Jamón y Queso Sandwich de Miga at Argentinian bakery Manena's is one of my all-time favorites. The place is a little hole in the wall at the corner of Westheimer and Wilcrest, but it is almost always filled with people, including expats from Argentina who swear the sandwiches, pastries and milenesas are just like home. On the cafe menu, the Sandwiches de Miga is described as "The slim white bread sandwich that is an Argentinean passion!" Now, it's mine.

Much like those bologna sandwiches of my youth, this is simple. It's white bread (delicious, pillowy white bread) layered with fresh ham and white cheese. There are three slices of rectangular white bread with the ham and cheese separated by one of them. It is cut, without crusts (kids are literally jumping up and down, I can feel it), oblong and two of them are served per order.

It doesn't need to be anything more than that. The creamy cheese and bright, salty ham are perfect foils and the soft bread feels like Wonder bread if it was made by someone's grandmother instead of in a factory. Have it with a side of french fries and be absolutely, 100 percent sure to follow it up with some cookies. Personally, I recommend the colaciones. Imagine a tiny, sweet empanada filled with dulce de leche and frosted with icing.

You'll leave wanting to come back and try everything on the menu, including some of the other miga variety including the Pimiento with red pepper ham and egg. For myself, the jamón y queso has now replaced the vulgar bologna sandwiches of my youth, but I'm not above having it with Kool-Aid.

If you have a sandwich you think is one of the best in town, hit us up. We're always looking for new options.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke