Here, Eat This

Houston's Best Sandwiches: Cubano at Flor de Cuba

The Cubano at Flor de Cuba is like a classic cubano served on delicate garlic bread.
The Cubano at Flor de Cuba is like a classic cubano served on delicate garlic bread. Photo by Jeff Balke
We are in search of Houston's best sandwiches because we love sandwiches and we love Houston!

Finding a great, authentic staple of any cuisine is sometimes difficult, even in a radically diverse city like Houston. Sometimes, it's just a matter of knowing where to look. Such is the case with the phenomenal Cubano at Flor de Cuba (16211 Clay) off Highway 6 and Clay Road near Addicks. This lovely little cafe is tucked into one of the myriad number of nondescript strip centers along Highway 6. Several closed stores and at least two churches (one called Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, for real) occupy spots nearby. The parking lot is not much to look at.

Inside, Flor is adorably decorated and lively, with salsa playing in the background. At lunch on a Friday, there are plenty of obvious regulars (both Cuban immigrants and local workers) there to grab ropa vieja and maduros from the buffet steam table, as well as sip on espresso. But the on-the-menu cubano is my target, thanks to a recent Uber driver, Rodrigo, who is from Cuba and told me Flor was the most authentic Cuban food he has had in Houston since he moved here three years ago.

The cubano sandwich isn't actually from Cuba, however. It was first created along the coast of Florida and served to workers and locals in Cuban communities. The basic sandwich is ham, roast pork, pickles and cheese on a pressed white roll. Some have mustard and/or mayonnaise. The best one I've ever had was in Miami at a well-known diner called Enriquetas. It had all of the above, plus its own twist, croquetas — imagine fried cheese on a sandwich and you get the idea.

Since eating at Enriquetas, and at several other cubano hot spots in Miami, I've searched for a great one in Houston and I'm happy to report I've finally found it at Flor. When I first sat down, the waitress placed a basket of bread lightly coated in garlic butter on the table. I told my niece, who accompanied me, that the quality of the bread seemed to bode well for my sandwich. I was right, but the bread was only part of the story.

The flaw in some cubanos is the roast pork. It can be dry and rather bland. Not here. It was tender and moist and loaded with flavor. The bread was light and crispy — no surprise considering Flor is also a bakery. But, the stand out was the fact that there were no condiments. Normally, I would want a little spicy mustard or mayonnaise, but in their place was a light brushing of the garlic butter on the interior surface of the bread. It was akin to eating the best ham and cheese sandwich you've ever had served on soft garlic bread. Needless to say, it was amazing and quite unexpected.

I imagine I could request condiments, but why? I'm anxious to get back and try some of the other sandwiches including the steak with French fries on the sandwich. But, for now, I'm just thrilled to find a place that offers up a killer cubano. It's a bit of a drive unless you live in Copperfield, but it's worth it.

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