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Video: Food Network star Alton Brown tries Tampa's cuban sandwiches, says they weren't 'what I expected'

Alton Brown did a blind taste test of some Cuban sandwiches during a tour stop in Tampa. [Alton Brown via Facebook]
Alton Brown did a blind taste test of some Cuban sandwiches during a tour stop in Tampa. [Alton Brown via Facebook]
Published Apr. 23, 2017

As connoisseurs of classic, Tampa-style Cuban sandwiches will tell you, lettuce and tomato on a Cuban is controversial at the least, and downright blasphemous in some circles.

So Alton Brown, James Beard award-winning cookbook author and star of Food Network's Good Eats and Iron Chef America, was a little taken aback to find both on a Tampa-bought Cuban on Friday.

Brown was in town for his live show at Tampa's David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and posted a video to his Facebook page of a four-sandwich taste test of the city's most recommended Cubans.

"I've gone on the record many times as saying the Cuban sandwich is my favorite sandwich on earth," Brown said in the video.

But he was apparently surprised with what he got from West Tampa Sandwich Shop, La Segunda Bakery, Brocato's and the Columbia.

"My Tampa Cuban sandwich blind taste-off wasn't what I expected," the video's caption reads. "NOTE: I only went to establishments as suggested by my fans."

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He had some good things to say, and some critiques, for all of them, which included puzzling over one sandwich's lack of salami, which is a Tampa addition that's credited to early Italian immigrants to Ybor City.

He was also surprised to find possible mayonnaise, another controversial ingredient among purists.

The top comment on the video was from an apparently mortified Tampa resident, who wrote, "What an atrocious representation of Tampa Cubans. Lettuce and tomato?!? Your "fans" steered you wrong."

That comment had more than 350 likes by Sunday morning, and dozens of comments from people offering up their own recommendations for Tampa Cuban sandwiches.

Contact Christopher Spata at Follow him on Twitter at @SpataTimes.


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