Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, African Caribbean cuisine. This is as a result of colonization by Spain and by the Africans that were brought as slaves to Cuba. They share similar spices, flavor and cooking techniques. This results in a unique, interesting and flavorful blend of the several different cultural influences, with strong similarities with the cuisine of the neighboring Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Cuban restaurants in Southern California are not that many. Porto’s Café & Bakery is one of the more popular bakery and restaurant in the Los Angeles area with several locations. They offer pastries and Cuban sandwiches. It is family owned café and bakery.
A Cuban sandwich which is sometimes called a “mixto“, is a popular lunch item. The sandwich is built on a base of lightly buttered Cuban bread which contains sliced roast pork, thinly sliced ham, cheese, dill pickles and mustard and mayonnaise. After it is assembled, the sandwich is pressed in a Panini-typed grill called a “plancha“, which both heats and compresses the contents.
I visited their Glendale location and had the Cuban sandwich and bought some of their pastries. While the service is great, the place is packed and I heard all their other locations are always packed.
The Cuban sandwich is really great; the bread is well toasted and all the components (thinly sliced ham, cheese, dill pickles) blended very well with the buttered bread, mayonnaise and mustard. However the pastries are nothing special. I bought several kinds and some of them are somewhat dry and some of them have fillings are almost dry.
I will go back when it is not so crowded and try some of their drinks.
Their website is www.portosbakery.com. They are have 3 locations, Burbank, Glendale and Downey.
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