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.