276 Southwest 8th Street
Miami, FL 33130
I was briefly in Miami, and I wanted to see what sandwiches they had to offer. I heard about Tinta y Cafe, and was interested to get a more authentic Cuban experience than is available in Philadelphia. When I walked in and saw the warming trays of empanadas, croquettes, and more, I knew I was in for a treat.
This place is a perfect little cafe, serving an incredible café con leche and a variety of small bites and sandwiches. Everything in this place was clean and well thought out.
I started with the ham and cheese croquettes (las croquetas), which were a steal at $.85. They were served with saltines, but no cracker was necessary in the devouring of these bites of joy. They were packed with diced ham and gooey cheese, and had I not otherwise ordered a significant amount of food, I would have eaten a dozen or so.
As it took approximately five minutes for my food to be prepared, I could not resist grabbing a chicken empanada to nosh while I waited. I have serious problems. The empanadas were incredible, and another steal at $2.25. Packed with well seasoned shredded chicken, I could also have eaten a (half) dozen of these.
Finally, it was time for some sandwiches. I say finally not because they took a while to come out, but because I was salivating thinking about them – even though I had already eaten what the average person might call "lunch." The first sandwich was based around their cilantro mayo, and included chicken, Spanish salami, Manchego, and caramelized onions. All of the sandwiches come on pressed bread, and are delicately assembled. This first one was incredible. It was the perfect balance of salty, crunchy and savory. Basically the trifecta of good sandwiches. The sandwiches are also served with a side of addictive plantain chips.
Last, but certainly not least, was the best Cuban I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying (or should I say 'eating'). The El Patria came with ham, pork, cheese, pickles and mustard. The standard Cuban components. However, between the bread, the quality of the ingredients, and the perfectly executed preparation, this was the best Cuban I have eaten. The cheese was nicely melted, the meats were all extremely tasty and the pickles looked like they had been sliced with a razor blade.
I really wish this place was in Philly; it would serve a niche that has been overlooked, namely casual Spanish-inspired sandwiches done with a creative flair. I know there are some SIMILAR places, but nothing I have seen that has executed like Tinta y Cafe.