It’s easy to feel out of place in some restaurants in Miami. It’s a town with too many trendy neighborhoods and an evolving roster of chic restaurants vying for the attention of celebrities, the upscale youth flush with tech money, and the pretenders upholding an Instagram lifestyle they can’t afford.
Luckily, Sanguich, with its cheeky Spanglish name and always upbeat familial staff, dispenses with the pretenses and serves up some of the best Cuban coffee and sandwiches in Little Havana. This is a neighborhood sandwich shop that draws the elite, epicureans, and hungry regulars but the place feels more like an idealized version of the Cuban cafeterias many of us here grew up with rather than the hot restaurant of the moment with a three month waitlist and a judgy hostess.
Let’s get this out of the way: there’s only one Cuban sandwich I want on my deathbed and it’s theirs. I want to go out surrounded by my loved ones and nestled snugly in bed sheets covered in mustard stains, Cuban bread crumbs, and pork grease. So, yes, you should order their Cuban sandwich.
Their pan con lechon is also among my favorites in the city and the rest of their sandwiches are all exceptionally executed Cuban classics like their croqueta preparada and media noche, or a new take on a classic like their pan con bistec.
But did you say, croqueta? You can’t make a croqueta preparada without croquetas and Sanguich delivers the goods on our favorite ventanita snack. This could be one of the top ventanitas in Miami just for the quality of their Cuban coffee and croquetas. It’s hard to limit your order at one of the premier sandwich shops in the city to just croquetas and coffee but no judgment from me if you do.
Their croqueta, always served hot and fresh, startles you with a surreal crunch from the first bite. It’s a comical crunch sound that reminds you more of the sound effects from childhood cereal commercials than your average Miami ventanita croqueta. There are even crunchier bits throughout the crust that have been kissed by more heat and oil to keep providing a playful textural experience as you munch through to the softer layer that protects the creamy insides.
The filling is luscious and balanced with a ham that is stylish, yet understated, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s approachable in that same way Anna Kendrick is. I’ve never met Anna Kendrick but let me dream, okay? It’s creamy with a mostly uniform consistency, few visible bits of ham, and no herbs to get stuck in your teeth. It’s just rich and delicious. I assure you I’m talking about the filling.
Most ventanitas in Miami like to serve their croquetas with soda crackers and a wedge of lime but Sanguich changes the game by giving us a creamy garlic cilantro aioli. It’s heavy on garlic, citrus, and an almost tolerable amount of cilantro; something I usually never want in my food ever. But I do make exceptions and this aioli is on the tolerable end of nefarious cilantro-themed foods and condiments. I normally like my croqueta experiences to be pure but this sauce provides an acidic counterpoint to the rich hammy treat that is well worth a few dips.
Sanguich might not be the first place you think of to get a croqueta fix, especially in Little Havana which has a few landmarks on the mythical Croqueta Trail pilgrims must travel. But maybe it should be.
Get there early and save the pretense for the parts of Miami that only pretend to care about you. The love is real at Sanguich and so are the croquetas.