Dishin’: Paseo’s Plausible, ‘Plaudable Midnight Cuban

It seems time for the yearly Seattlest commentary on Paseo Caribbean Restaurant. But since they’re on their annual winter leave, this Seattlester traveled nearly 3,000 miles in search of a comparable Cuban sandwich. The destination: Miami’s El Palacio de los Jugos. The dish: a Medianoche. So how does Seattle’s sandwich stack up to a real Midnight Cuban?

At El Palacio, it’s simple, straightforward, and ready in seconds. Sliced pork, ham (usually Serrano), Swiss cheese, and pickle slices sit inside soft, sweet egg bread, getting pressed to a crisp in a plancha (not a panini grill, which has grooves), which melts the cheese perfectly. Grab a guanabana juice (or one of many other exotic flavors), pay by credit card (if you like), and take one of many seats under a tent-like structure. (You’ll likely share a table with some local Cubans – a perfect chance to practice your Spanish!)

Paseo is a far different place. No credit cards (or checks), no parking, (almost) no seats, no consistent hours, no phone being answered, no service (according to some), and no sign of the place (you’ll need to know it’s at 4225 Fremont Avenue North) – unless you encounter the “No more sandwiches sign” in the window, which means they have no more bread.

But who’s complaining? Come early, bring cash, and order a sandwich. While it may not be authentic, Paseo’s Midnight Cuban is a delicious mess: marinated pork pieces, sliced ham, melted cheese, grilled onions, cilantro, garlicky mayo and more spilling out of the baguette. Incredible. Same for the tasty tofu and perfect prawn sandwiches. Served with a half-ear of corn on the cob, you’ll need a fistful of napkins for sure – but only after you lick all the goodness off your fingers first.

El Palacio may be the king of the juices and Midnight Cubans, but we eagerly await the reopening of Paseo at the end of the month for its spin on this special sandwich.

Originally posted at Seattlest (where “we” = me) on January 8, 2008.

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