It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Tampa. No, we’re not talking about the Hallmark holiday season, we’re talking about the lead up to Ybor’s annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival. The never-ending debate concerning who makes the finest Cuban sandwich in the city, the state, and the world draws feverish passion from longtime residents of the Tampa Bay area.
Clash of the Cuban Sandwich Titans
Arguments are settled in April when masterful chefs in Tampa and around the world throw down in Florida. Prior to arriving in Tampa April 1-2, the Cuban Sandwich Festival hosts special semi-final rounds in Miami and Orlando. The winners advance to the main event in Ybor City.
Chef from South Korea Join the Competition
One exciting addition to this year’s roster of Cuban Sandwich juggernauts is the South Korea-based restaurant Tampa Sandwich Bar. This spring will mark the first visit to the Tampa Bay area for owners Geunmin Kang and Hyunmin Cho. They both did exhaustive research in order to craft their menu — Cuban and Mac N’ Cheese sandwiches, shrimp po’ boys, fried Oreos and sweet potato fries are main fixtures. We’re eager to finally sample their interpretation of the iconic dish.
Participants in the smackdown competitions include Chef Jose Juarez of The BarbaCuban, El Cubanito Subs, La Flor de Espana, Pipo’s Cuban Cafe, El Guajiro, The Cuban Press and Sergio’s Cuban Restaurant, among others.
If you’re in attendance then you’re already a winner
A panel of celebrity judges will converge in Tampa to decide winners in several categories:
- Tampa Historic Cuban Sandwich
- Non-Traditional Cuban Sandwich
- Popular Cuban Sandwich
- World’s Best Cuban Sandwich
- Smackdown Champions (Metro Orlando, Miami/South Florida)
Local residents have the unique opportunity of April 1 and 2 to sink their teeth into the most inventive Cuban-inspired fare ever concocted. The participating chefs earn the criminally overused and dried out adjective, exquisite.
For further details and to purchase tickets to the event visit the festival’s main website. Hungry for more? View this list of spots that craft our *personal favorite* Cuban Sandwiches in Tampa.