Viva la Cubano

Photo: Neill Pieper

Photo: Neill Pieper

Try Some of the Best Cuban Sandwiches in Colorado

By Steve Graham

You don’t have to be a fan of Raul Castro to mark Cuba’s Day of National Rebellion on July 26 with an authentic Cuban sandwich. After all, you’re likely supporting a Cuban émigré (or a talented gringo in at least one case), rather than the longtime leader. Most of all, you’re supporting your taste buds with the best local takes on the classic Cubano.

Cuba Cuba Cafe

1173 Delaware St., Denver (plus six other locations across the Front Range)

This week marks both the 66th anniversary of Castro’s revolutionary movement, as well as the 18th anniversary of Kristy Bigelow opening Cuba Cuba in Denver’s Golden Triangle. The famed tropical patio has since become a Denver icon and the ultimate destination for traditional mojitos and cubanos. 

Cuba Cuba still piles roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread, and serves it with a side salad, mojo fries, yucca fritz or plantains. 

The sandwich competes with a full, creative menu at the original Cuba Cuba, and at a new Castle Rock restaurant, but the Cubano is the focus of a chain of simpler and smaller sandwicherias around the metro area from the Tech Center to Thornton.

Photo: Neill Pieper

Photo: Neill Pieper

Buchi Café Cubano

2651 W. 38th Ave., Denver and 401 Harrison Ave., Leadville

When Cuba Cuba opened, it didn’t have much competition. Today, there are plenty of other authentic Cuban eats on offer. A new favorite is Buchi Café Cubano, with cozy locations in northwest Denver and Leadville. The café is known for fast, friendly service. It serves strong, traditional Cuban coffee (with no decaf or skinny alternative — only order a coffee if you need a jolt), classic cocktails and hearty, panini-pressed sandwiches. 

Buchi’s Cubano includes onions, and there are some creative spinoffs on the menu, including the Aye Conyo, which adds turkey, pepperoni, hot peppers and key lime mayo. 

Frijoles Colorado Cuban Café

12095 W. Alameda Pkwy., Lakewood 

Another new but strong competitor is in a Lakewood strip mall. The Negrins, a Cuban family from Miami, run Frijoles Colorado. They make a simple, classic and dense Cubano for less than $10, alongside signature grilled steak or chicken dishes. 

The menu, location and décor (and even the website) at Frijoles Colorado may be more stripped-down than Cuba Cuba, but the Negrins let the simple and traditional food speak for itself. 

Cuba Bakery and Café

15028 E. Mississippi Ave., Aurora

The first thing you’ll notice at the Cuba Bakery in Aurora is a mouthwatering rainbow of treats in the bakery case. But don’t just skip to dessert. Get a Cubano or some flaky empanadas. With a Cubano for less than $8, you’ll have money (if not room in your belly) for those baked goods.

Like Frijoles Colorado, Cuba Bakery is also an unassuming and simple restaurant in a grocery store parking lot. 

Try a cool Mojito while enjoying your Cubano sandwich. Photo: Neill Pieper

Try a cool Mojito while enjoying your Cubano sandwich. Photo: Neill Pieper

Olive and Finch

1552 E. 17th Ave., Denver and 3390 E. 1st Ave., Denver

Cooking is truly a universal language. You don’t actually have to be Cuban to make a great Cubano with love, care and the right ingredients.

Olive and Finch always has the right ingredients, including homemade bread made daily, whipped butter and house-roasted mojo pork, all of which go into their Cubano sandwich. 

Sure, it’s just one of many tempting sandwiches served alongside salads and daily housemade soups at the restaurant’s two locations in Uptown and Cherry Creek.