Kravings: The Pacer’s Kamika Patel tries Cuban food for the first time in a local unsung restaurant

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Kravings: The Pacer’s Kamika Patel tries Cuban food for the first time in a local unsung restaurant

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The phrase “hidden gem” is used to describe places that are generally unknown by the mainstream world. Being that we live in the suburbs of Chicago, where our dine-in options are more than we could ever ask for, there are several overlooked hole-in-the-walls, and Cubano Bros is just one of the many located in Elk Grove, a 15-minute drive from RMHS. 

Pacer staff member Erin Prusener and I decided to drive to Cubano Bros after AP tests, looking to celebrate the end of stress and hours of studying. The venue was tucked away in a strip mall off of Landmeier Road. The only indicator that we were at the right place was a small sign, displaying an artistic logo above the restaurant’s awning. 

The inside of the restaurant was one of the most interesting interiors I have seen. Bright blues and reds influenced the paint on the walls, the marble flooring created a very clean look and the grill of an old-timey car above the window of the kitchen looked like something I would see driving down the narrow streets of Cuba. The Cuban music playing overhead really immersed us into the theme of the restaurant and made the experience all the more authentic.

Prusener and I were greeted with smiling faces and the restaurant was packed due to a lunch hour rush. We ordered at the register and found ourselves a small table. The small size of the venue and the crowd of people made the space a little claustrophobic, but people continuously trickled in and out, and so the wait time was significantly less than we thought it would be as our orders were ready in five minutes tops.

Prusener ordered the Media Noche sandwich and I decided to get the Cubano Bros Chicken sandwich. Having filled up on more than a handful of peppermints during the AP test, I wasn’t trying to devour a huge lunch. Our wrapped sandwiches were served hot and fresh, and each sandwich was practically forearm long, so I wasn’t concerned about still being hungry after digging in. 

The bread on both sandwiches really made the dishes stand out. Prusener’s Media Noche was toasted to perfection. The egg bread was seared on both sides to a golden brown and the soft pillowy inside was a pleasant difference to the thin and crispy outside. The bread melded well with the soft and juicy steak and the fresh pork. The melted Swiss cheese muted the flavors of the meat to pair well with one another and also made for a great cheese pull. The pickles gave the sandwich more of a crunch and excited the taste buds with a bit of tanginess.

My Chicken Cubano was no less of a meal. The grilled chicken was tender and seasoned well. The toppings on the sandwich like the caramelized onions, lettuce and tomato were fresh and full of flavor. The Mojo aioli, a mayonnaise sauce seasoned with spices like garlic, cumin and chilli added a savory flavor to the sandwich and avoided it being dry. However, I will say that the Cubano did taste very similar to a Chicken Philly sandwich, but being that this was my first time trying Cuban food, I couldn’t really let that comparison make any type of impact on my judgment. Overall, each sandwich was ample in portion size, leaving us perfectly satisfied and executed flavors that pair well with one another.

Considering the fact that this was mine and Prusener’s first times trying Cuban food, this Kravings was a definite success. The restaurant did an amazing job offering a taste of the Cuban culture not only with its menu, but also its ambiance. From a breakfast menu to Cuban beverages, Cubano Bros offers many authentic dishes all for a reasonable price. 

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