TOMMY BAHAMA’S | Cuban Sandwich

with Garlic Mayonnaise

by RRR

In South and Southwest Florida, the Cuban Sandwich (or Cubano, as we call it) is THE sacred sandwich.  For many years, the Cubano-griddled ham, Swiss cheese, seasoned roast pork and dill pickles pressed on authentic Cuban bread-were only served in casual Florida sandwiches at Latino restaurants.

But where exactly they originated is a bone of some contention between native Floridians.  Tampa claims to be the first to introduce the sandwich to America.  The Cubano catered to the Cuban communities centered largely around Ybor’s cigar industry.  Miami, however, claims that South Florida is the Cuban capital of the US, bringing the beloved sandwich with the large Cuban immigration through Miami.

Another hotly debated issue is whether or not the Cubano has salami on it.  Tampeno’s say *YES!*,  while Miamian’s say *Don’t even think about it!*  Much in the way that a Chicagoan would rather gnaw their own arm off then to put ketchup on a hot dog.  While I strongly agree about the ketchup issue, I am not as divided on the salami one.  Either way, the Cubano sandwich slays and is a favorite in this house.

If you are lucky enough to have visited an authentic Cuban bakery, then you may have noticed that the bread used for the sandwiches are baked with a palmetto over the top.  Besides being an age-old tradition dating back to the 1800’s, there is a practical reason for the palm leaf.  The palmetto creates the bread’s signature top seam and allows for more even baking, while keeping the area under the leaf moist and soft.  Perfect for sandwich making!

If you  have a sandwich or panini press, I recommend using it to griddle the sandwich.  It will give you those lovely grill lines, but also makes for very even toasting.  But if not, don’t give a care.  Just toast the Cubano on a dry, hot pan and cover the sandwich with aluminum foil.  Weigh the sandwich down with whatever creative thing you have in the kitchen.  I’ve used a small cast iron pan, weighed down with large cans of tomatoes and it worked just fine.  If you need assistance, watch the FULL VIDEO TUTORIAL below.

For more island-inspired recipes, check out Bahama Breeze’s Jamaican Jerk Pasta and Joe’s Stone Crab’s Crabcakes.  Enjoy!

Tommy Bahama's Old-School Cuban Sandwich with Garlic Mayonnaise

Serves: 2-4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 694 calories 30 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


  • 1 LB. pork tenderloin
  • 1 Cuban bread loaf
  • 8 slices deli ham, off-the-bone
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese
  • 8 Kosher dill pickle spears
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s pref.)
  • 4 TBL Dijon mustard
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed through a garlic press
  • ¾ TBL Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. powdered onion
  • ¼ tsp. powdered garlic
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 2 TBL EVOO, divided
  • ½ stick unsalted butter, room temperature


Using a sharp paring knife, trim all excess fat and silver skin from the pork.  For help on how to trim the silver skin, watch the FULL VIDEO TUTORIAL (link below).  Once the tenderloin has been trimmed, rub 1 TBL of the EVOO over the tenderloin.  Season the pork with the kosher salt, powdered onion, powdered garlic, cumin and cracked black pepper.  Rub the seasoning over the entire tenderloin and let stand for about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large heavy bottomed pan on high heat, add the other TBL of EVOO to the pan.  Once the oil shimmers, add the tenderloin and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees, about 10-15 minutes.

While the pork is on the oven, mix the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and crushed, fresh garlic in a small mixing bowl. Set aside in refrigerator until use.

Once the pork is finished in the oven and reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees, remove from the oven, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Once the pork has rested, slice the pork lengthwise in 1/4" slices.

Carefully slice the Cuban bread lengthwise.  Spread the Garlic Mayo on the inside top and bottom of the bread.  Line the Cuban bread with the Swiss cheese, ham, roast pork, and dill pickle spears.  Close the bread and wrap in parchment or wax paper.  Press the sandwich down firmly to compress the sandwich.  Carefully unwrap the sandwich and slice the sandwich in half on the diagonal.  Spread the tops and bottoms of the Cuban sandwich halves with the softened butter.

If using a Sandwich or Panini press, preheat the press to 375 degrees.  Once the press comes to 375 degrees, place the sandwich halves on the press and griddle until the Cuban bread becomes a golden brown on both sides and the cheese starts to melt, slightly.  You may need to flip the sandwich on the griddle for even toasting.

If you do not have a sandwich or panini press, place your sandwich halves on a dry, fry pan on the highest heat.  Cove the sandwich halves with aluminum foil, and weight down the sandwich with any large, heavy cookware.  I use a small cast-iron pan weighed down with large cans of pantry items.  Once the bottom of the sandwich turns a golden brown color, flip the sandwich over and repeat the process on the other side.

Transfer the sandwich to a cutting board and allow to rest for 3-4 minutes before slicing further.


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