The Cuban Sandwich at This Silver Lake Spot Was Just Named Best in the World

The judges at the International Cuban Sandwich Festival have spoken

Located in a Sunset Boulevard strip mall between buzzy spots like Trois Familia and Fat Dragon (oh, and a Domino’s Pizza and Baskin-Robbins), family-run Cuban restaurant El Cochinito just earned major bragging rights—and a comically large trophy. Over the first weekend in April, El Cochinito joined restaurants from all over the world at the International Cuban Sandwich Festival in Ybor City, Florida (fun fact: as of the 2010 census, 70 percent of Cuban Americans lived in Florida), and walked away with a first-place finish in the traditional Cuban sandwich category. Through a nomination process, El Cochinito was selected to represent the entire West Coast.

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Opened in 1988 by Gladys Gutierrez, who passed away four years ago and is the grandmother of the current owners, El Cochinito prides itself on its slow-roasted lechon asado. For the traditional sandwich competition, which was judged by a panel of Tampa-area chefs and local-celeb types, they had to abide by strict ingredient guidelines: Cuban bread, sweet ham, mojo-marinated pork, Swiss cheese, kosher pickles, and mustard. Butter was permitted, but only if the sandwich was pressed. The competition rules stressed: “No other ingredients can be used in the Traditional entry. Sandwiches may lose 10 points per rule violation.”

Daniel Navarro, who co-owns the restaurant with his mother and sister, says the win was “super overwhelming.” “When they announced the second-place winner [Las Iguanas, a South American restaurant in London] we were like, oh man, I can’t believe we didn’t win anything,” he recalls. “Then they called our name.”

In other news, a Cuban sandwich sounds very good right now.

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RELATED:  In Search of the Cubano, From Havana to Tampa to L.A.

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