Once the American palate got a hold of Hispanic foods, we ended up with platter-sized chimichangas, guacamole from a jar and nacho cheese from a can. Fortunately, we also got the Cuban sandwich: a hearty, portable lunch born when Cuban immigrants came to Florida.
Each Sandwich Cubano at La Tropicana (5001 Lindenwood; 314-353-7328) is assembled to order. First, the Cuban bread gets a smear of mustard and of mojito, a house-made, garlicky olive oil sauce. Next, the cook hoists a large tong-full of marinated roast pork, letting just enough of the juices drain so that the bread won’t get soggy. The chunks of pork get topped with Swiss cheese, thick slices of ham and an equally thick slab of pickle.
The whole enchilada (metaphorically speaking, of course) goes into a hot sandwich press until the cheese melts and the bread crisps.
According to the print menu, the Sandwich Cubano comes with plantain chips, but it just as often comes with a hearty scoop of rice with beans. Although the sandwich might cost $7.95, it’s easily big enough to share.