Budget Beat

Mimita's Cuban Cafe in Chandler Serves Lunch for Under $10

We found an authentic Sandwich Cubano in Chandler -- and for under $8. With no sign other than a small a-frame out front declaring it the "Best Cuban Food Around," Mimita's Cuban Cafe is easy to miss.Take a second look, because this place is serving nothing short of delicious, well prepared Cuban food.

See also: Empanadas for Dessert at Empanadas Republica in Mesa

Our waitress sat us at a booth by the window overlooking the patio. The place was strangely empty at 12:30 on a Thursday afternoon. We began to get nervous that we had made a poor choice, but soon patrons began to trickle in, some came for pick up orders, and others came to stay. By 1:30 the place was hopping. A variety of dishes made their way out of the kitchen from empanadas to what we came for, Sandwich Cubanos.

The Sandwich Cubano is a "working man's" lunch brought to Key West and Tampa Florida from Cuba around the late 1800's and it is a study in awesome. Pork, ham, swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles pressed into a hot flat sandwich using a plancha. This is similar to a panini press without the grill grooves. This hearty lunch at Mimita's will only set you back $7.49. All sandwiches come with your choice of yuca frita, shoestring fries, or mariquitas. Yuca frita's are similar to big steak fries but a bit more starchy, and marquitas are made with green plantains sliced paper thin creating these wonderfully light crisp chips. We highly recommend the fries, but the mariquitas were also delicious. Bring a friend so you can get both!

The server told us the secret to their Cuban bread. Mimita's orders bread from a bakery in downtown Phoenix (she didn't reveal the bakery) to have their bread baked fresh daily. The owners took it a step further and worked with this bakery to create a Cuban bread recipe for our dry Arizona weather. As our server explained, the bread made in Arizona can never be an exact replica of Cuban bread due to the lack of humidity, but we sure couldn't tell the difference.

Another lunch option is the Pan Con Lechon -- a sandwich piled with pulled pork, grilled onions, and mayonnaise. It is not pressed like the Sandwich Cubano, which allows for the bread to soak up the juice from the meat. This sandwich is only $6.99 again with your choice of fries, yuca frita, or marquitas.

Keep your eye out for a Dessert First column about Mimito's drunk cake that will knock you on your ass and make you need a coffee to sober up before driving away.

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Jenny Zink
Contact: Jenny Zink