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This year’s Cuban Sandwich Festival winner might be a little unfamiliar

MONICA HERNDON | Times The bar is full for lunchtime at Hemingway's at Tampa Heights Market at Armature Works on February 22, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. The 22,000-square-foot market features 14 vendors, including second locations for longtime restauranteurs and several new concepts.
Published Apr. 4, 2018

The Cuban Sandwich Festival was back in Ybor City for a seventh year over the weekend, once again proving itself to be a truly international affair with returning competitors from Korea and new ones from London.

But even the winner in the “historic” category, restricted to Tampa Bay area restaurants who adhere to the traditional Tampa-style Cuban sandwich ingredients, might not be well known to local sandwich aficionados yet.

Hemingway’s won the category with its “Hemingway Cuban.” The restaurant opened recently at the new Heights Public Market at the Armature Works in Tampa Heights.

Before the opening of the restaurant that has been billed as “Cuban soul food,” Chef Felicia Lacalle told the Tampa Bay Times, “This is my first brick-and-mortar of my own. ... I’m out of my comfort zone, but I want to show Tampa what Cuban food is all about.”

Lacalle previously served as executive sous and regional pastry chef at Roy’s, as well as executive chef at the now-closed Samba Room in Tampa.

Here are the rest of this year’s winners.

Historic: 1. Hemingway’s (Tampa); 2. La Yuma (Lutz); 3. Manolitos (Tampa food truck)

Non-Traditional: 1. Las Iguanas (London); 2. Empamamas (Tampa food truck); 3. Smoke Showin’ Catering (Ohio)

Popular: 1. Tampa Sandwich Bar (Korea); 2. Empamamas (Tampa food truck); 3. La Yuma (Lutz)

Traditional / World’s Best: 1. El Cochinito (Los Angeles); 2. Las Iguanas (London); 3. Bentinez Bistro (Miami)

RELATED: A very Tampa-centric review of Arby’s new Miami Cuban