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It’s National Cuban Sandwich Day! Here’s where to get a good one in Manatee County, according to locals.

A traditional Cuban sandwich recipe calls for sliced ham, roast pork with a citrusy marinade (called mojo) and Swiss cheese layered in a loaf of Cuban bread. The sandwich is then garnished with pickles and mustard.
A traditional Cuban sandwich recipe calls for sliced ham, roast pork with a citrusy marinade (called mojo) and Swiss cheese layered in a loaf of Cuban bread. The sandwich is then garnished with pickles and mustard. MCT

It’s National Cuban Sandwich Day.

The unofficial holiday was created as a hoax in 2016 by a Tampa Bay area reporter, but there is never a bad time to celebrate a delicious food with Florida roots.

Cuban sandwiches are hotly contested fare in Florida, with Tampa and Miami vying for the crown.

Though Tampa is agreed upon as the Cuban’s birthplace, Miami slings some mean sandwiches in its own right.

A lot of your preference might come down to whether you like salami on your Cuban in addition to the traditional roast pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard.

The style is predominant in Tampa thanks to the mix of Cuban and Italian culture present in Ybor City at the time that the sandwich was invented.

When food television star Alton Brown came to Tampa in 2017 he did a blind taste test of local Cubans. Regretfully, he was not very impressed. Then again, he only tried four sandwiches.

Perhaps Brown would have had better luck in Manatee County.

In honor of National Cuban Sandwich Day, we asked members of the Bradenton Herald Facebook group “Manatee Eats” to weigh in on who makes the best Cuban sandwich in Manatee County.

Here’s what they recommend:

Café Havana

Established in 1994, Café Havana owners pride themselves on authentic Cuban eats. Café Havana’s Cubans are served sans salami and come in two sizes, a nine-inch “regular” or a 12-inch “grande.” Add extra meat to either size for one dollar.

Café Havana is at 1440 63rd Ave. E., Bradenton. thecafehavana.com.

Crazy Papa’s

Some of the best food can be found in humble places. Crazy Papa’s is a Sarasota-based company that operates local convenience stores complete with deli counters. Crazy Papa’s sandwiches are prepared with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses and bread from Saint Armands Baking Company in Bradenton. The Cuban is Tampa style (salami included).

Crazy Papa’s has multiple locations throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties. “Manatee Eats” members recommend the one at 4720 53rd Ave.. E., Bradenton. crazypapas.com.

Noreen’s Deli

Noreen’s Deli is located right across from LECOM Park in Bradenton. The deli prepares all kinds of classic subs and sandwiches, including Cubans. Noreen’s puts their own spin on the Cuban sandwich, leaving out the roasted pork. Instead, American cheese and sour pickles are thrown in the mix with sliced ham, salami, Swiss cheese and mustard.

Noreen’s Deli is at 616 30th Ave. E., Bradenton. noreensdeli.com.

Abuela’s Kitchen

Abuela’s Kitchen makes traditional Cuban dishes of all kinds. The restaurant’s Cuban sandwich gets rave reviews from locals and travelers alike.

Abuela’s Kitchen is at 727 Seventh St. W., Palmetto. abuelaskitchen941.com.

Other recommendations:

Parrish Cuban Grill, 2100 U.S. 301 N. Ellenton.

The B’Towne Coffee Co., 440 12th St. W., Bradenton.

Mirna’s Cuban Cuisine, 7980 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Drago’s Cuban Cafe, 904 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton.

Seafood Shack, 4110 127th St. W., Cortez.

Boiler Room Bar & Grill, 5600 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Jessie’s Island Store, 5424 Marina Dr., Holmes Beach.

MOJO’s Real Cuban, 11161 E. State Rd. 70 #103, Lakewood Ranch.

Corner Market, 7301 S. Tamiami Trail, Palmetto.

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