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16 December, 2011

Old Havana Sandwich Shop

Posted in : Dining in Durham - NC, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez

Old Havana Sandwich Shop
310 East Main Street
Downtown Durham
Website
$5.50–$10

 

 

I’ve been twice now to Old Havana Sandwich Shop, and it’s a wonderful choice for lunch or coffee. The owners are always super welcoming and happy to share their offerings of good Cuban sandwiches. I am not a Cuban sandwich traditionalist—if you are, you’ll be horrified to learn that I ordered both my sandwiches without any mustard at all, so don’t count on me to tell you whether this meets your authenticity credentials or not. But it definitely meets my delicious credentials, and that’s all I ask for.

Following the smart choice of many local restaurants and cafes, Old Havana gets their bread from Guglhupf, and the French rolls crisp up wonderfully when pressed. They also do coffee really well. My double cubano

 

was absolutely delicious and sweetened just right for me to add it to my list of favorite strong, yet palatable, caffeine fixes in the area. It’s pictured with a dulce de leche mantecadito from the South Durham Confectionary Company. I thought that was steeply priced at $0.75 for such a small cookie, but it was pretty tasty with lots of butter. The dulce de leche flavor was lost in the mix, however.

I’ve also had their double café con leche, and that drink was just as well-prepared as the cubano.

The Old Havana Sandwich Shop gets major points for their coffee quality.

All their sandwiches are served with two portions of perfectly prepared maduras, mushy on the inside and crisp on the edges.

Both times, I ordered the Tampa sandwich, which usually comes with slow-roasted pork from local farms, ham, salami, pickles, cheese, mustard, and mojo sauce. All three meats on mine were super fresh and quality. None of their tastes overwhelmed the others, and the pickles and mojo sauce provided nice bursts of liveliness with each bite.

On my first trip, my friend Rosie ordered the vegetarian platter that came with black beans, rice, and plantain chips.

To me, it didn’t look at all appetizing, but I happen to hate beans. She liked the beans fine, but she agreed, as many bloggers have already mentioned, that fresh, rather than bagged, plantain chips would be better. It appears from Carpe Durham comments that the owners don’t want to invest in a deep fryer, and I can’t blame them for opting to forgo that expense and the necessary fans to disperse the smell. Frankly, I’d rather have the maduras portion that comes with the sandwiches anyway.

Friend Rosie also ordered one of their side salads, which varies according to the produce available. This was a butternut squash salad.

It hopped with citrus flavors and was a great alternative to all the heavy squash dishes that come out this time of year.

The interior of the Old Havana Sandwich Shop is quite appealing with its mix of muted yellow walls, splashes of color from artwork on the walls and at the counter, and potted plants.

There’s also a couch situated in the back corner, and free wi-fi is available, but the outlets are covered, so it’s only ideal for short-term working stints as a coffee house. Regardless, I’ll definitely be back because I love the welcoming vibe of the place, and while they don’t have a varied menu, what they do, they do well. Besides, I love a good cup of coffee.

Check out these other bloggers’ thoughts, too.

Reviewed 30 Nov 11 and 19 Oct 11.

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