Tony's never been one to follow trends in food. In fact, he tends to avoid them. And we can never really predict how dishes will sell until we throw them out there and see what sticks. Whether it's because Caribe is new or small, or situated where it is, we seem to go through cycles of certain things being popular one week, the next week another thing is selling well and so on. And it's been totally unpredictable, too, with the exception of the Doubles, which are selling like crazy since a recent Citypages article raved about them.
So what's the hot seller lately besides the Doubles? Our Grilled Cuban Sandwich.
A quick search of the history of the Cubano, or Cuban Sandwich, will tell you it's been around for a while. It's popular in southern Florida & Miami where many Cubans have settled. A traditional Cubano is usually made with Cuban bread, pork, ham, cheese & pickle, smashed together in a sandwich press (usually a flat grill, not panini style with ridges) and grilled until heated through.
It wasn't long after we took over Jay's Cafe, just before we changed over to Caribe, when Tony began serving his Grilled Cuban Sandwich, a traditionally prepared Cuban sandwich (his is with roasted pulled pork, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles on Cuban bread, served with plantain chips and pineapple mango coleslaw).
Shortly after Caribe had officially opened this spring, I heard Latin sounding music over the radio and a commercial for Panera Bread company's Cuban Chicken Panini.
And just the other day, while listening to the radio while driving, what did I hear on the radio? Yet another interlude of latin music leading into a commercial. What's this? A commercial for Subway's new Cuban pulled pork sub.
And suddenly we can't seem to sell enough Cuban sandwiches. They're the "hot" thing now at Caribe. Hmmm...Tony may try to avoid trends, but maybe that's because he'd rather start them?
OK, we're a dinky new restaurant and we can't claim to have started the trend, but it's nice to see his menu items doing well with Minnesotans. And I guess we'll take the free advertising from Subway & Panera, putting it in people's heads, if only subconsciously, to eat a Cuban sandwich. And they are eating them at Caribe. A lot of them.
So let it be known, Caribe served a Cuban sandwich before the big chain places did! And, for that matter, If I'm not mistaken, we are one of only two restaurants in Minnesota who serve Doubles. Keep your eyes peeled....we predict doubles just might start popping up on more MN menus soon.