Tag Archives: Tampa

Gulf Coasting: The Tampa Cuban Sandwich Festival

By Christopher Nank, Gulf Coast Correspondent

To call the 2nd annual Cuban Sandwich Festival merely a contest to determine the best Cuban sandwich in Florida would be grossly understating the scope of the event. Set entirely within the one square block of Centennial Park in Tampa’s historic Ybor City, the scene had the feel of a Latin food festival, a farmer’s market, crafts fair and music showcase rolled into a single glorious spectacle. Not even the absence of a beer truck could overshadow a beautiful late March day spent amid the wafting scents of grilled, fried and smoked food.

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Gulf Coasting: The Monte Castro at Dochos Concession

Funnel cake batter? Funnel cake batter!

By Christopher Nank, Gulf Coast Correspondent

Almost as ubiquitous in the Tampa Bay area as grouper, the Cuban sandwich is a point of fierce civic pride. The website Creative Loafing’s annual Best of the Bay accolades often include four or more categories recognizing the Florida staple, covering those sporting the “traditional” composition—that is, ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread—to the more avant-garde interpretations some eateries are renowned for. It’s worth noting that there is a long-standing debate over the sandwich’s geographic origins and the “proper” ingredients, with Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood fiercely claiming ownership of those qualities against such challengers as Miami’s Little Havana. But this is digression, ultimately. Although I admit my biases hew closer to the traditional end of the spectrum, I love the Cuban in all incarnations and with whatever dressings. Continue reading