I finally got to go behind the counter at Puerto Sagua to make a Cuban sandwich with them. Here's the recipe. Dreams do come true.
When I was a kid my father frequently took me to a Cuban restaurant on Miami Beach called Puerto Sagua. It was opened in New York in the early 50’s, before officially bringing its Cuban sandwich recipe to Miami Beach on Collins and 7th Street in 1968. Long before The Gap opened across the street and Versace drove crowds to today’s Miami Beach, Puerto Sagua was there.
Now in its third generation of ownership, not a ton has changed. Puerto Sagua, which is named after the port in Isabela de Sagua, Cuba, offers a no frills atmosphere which is, the atmosphere. There’s a counter serving cafecitos and pastelitos and a dining area reminiscent of a 1950s cafeteria. It’s pretty terrific, and for me, it’s the best plate of rice and beans on the beach.
Over the years I’ve made Puerto Sagua a point on my itinerary on just about any trip to visit the Beach. I recommend you do too. For me, it still brings back memories and ever since the David’s Cafe on Collins and 11th closed, it’s the only real Cuban sandwich on the beach.
If you’re reading this article you probably don’t need a recipe for a Cuban sandwich. But, not all Cuban sandwiches are equal and that’s where this recipe comes in. The Puerto Sagua sandwich is traditional and simple yet, and here’s where the fighting words come in — a notch above the Cuban that you’ve been eating for most of your life.
Puerto Sagua Cuban Sandwich Recipe
Cuban bread — sliced horizontally, across the middle
Butter — on the bottom slice of bread
Ham — two layers, with each piece folded and enough to cover the bread
Sliced roast pork — two layers, covering the ham
Swiss cheese — again, two layers
Pickles — a row of pickles (about four or five)
Mustard — spread on the top slice of bread
After the mustard, put the top on, rub a little bit of butter on the bread, then put it on the grill or panini press for about 3-4 minutes. Every grill is different so make sure the temperature is hot enough to melt everything together but not too hot to burn it.
Here’s a Look at the Full Recipe Behind the Scenes
Ken Deckinger is the co-founder and CEO of Startup Cuba and the executive producer and host of its namesake docuseries. A native of South Florida, Ken has been an entrepreneur for his entire professional career. Previously he was co-founder and CEO of HurryDate, pioneering the global concept of speed dating to 45 cities throughout the US, UK and Canada. HurryDate eventually evolved into online dating and was acquired by Spark Networks, the parent company of ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com. Ken is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Florida, where he was honored with the University’s Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Under 40 award and sits on the Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He actively advises entrepreneurs and is a two-time protagonist of a Harvard Business School case study. Ken’s filmmaking and journalistic journey is inspired by a love of travel and authentic connections with other cultures. He believes that the more we know about each other, through stories, the closer we can become — thus the mission of Startup Cuba: to amplify the voices of the people sharing stories in the Latinx space. After living in New York City for 15 years, he encouraged his wife to move their family to Miami to get back to his South Florida roots. Needless to say, it was a short discussion and he and his family now call Boston, where his wife grew up, their home.
I discovered Puerto Sagua in 1982 and totally concur with your words and descriptions. I will add that i watched several of the people that work there turn gray along with me. Truly the best plantains, rice and beans and baked chicken ever!