When I looked at GLOB Image Editor Erica Corbett's Flaco's Sunshine Bowl, and then my Flaco's Downtown Cuban Bakery Ropa Vieja Bowl, I think she got the better bowl. It was a rainy day in Hogtown, but when I started out my morning adventure the sky looked anything but foreboding. My plan was to run by Flaco's, pick up a couple of Food-On-The-Run lunch entrees for the GLOB's Image Editor and I. Thanks to the Florida climatic personality of intermittent rain showers, I was only held up a minute or two beneath a University Avenue overhang waiting for the 'serious' rain to slack off. The sporadic showers enabled me to quickly walk the 8 or so blocks to Erica's office and enjoy our lunch hour. The tightly packed aluminum tins holding the noon-day meal did a fine job of keeping all the elements heated, crisp, and very tasty. According to the menu, "Bowls are a nice portion of your staple with rice, lentils or black beans and plantains/sunshine." You can choose a protein with your bowl, and Ms. Corbett selected shredded chicken along with mixed veggies, tofu, plaintains, and lentils. Lentils. It never would have occurred to me to include lentils, and her bowl looked delicious partly because of the lentils. According to the World's Healthiest Foods website:
Lentils, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.
I opted for the Ropa Bowl, image above right, which was delicious with black beans, rice, plaintains and shredded beef, and seasoned well albeit a bit salty for my tastes. I felt smart not eating the bread that normally accompanies my Ropa Vieja sandwich. I have given up rice, which I really love, GLOBers. The rice and the sugar from the plaintain sent my blood sugar skyrocketing. The next time, I am getting the Sunshine Bowl. Not only did it look fabulous, but I would have received a gold star, and a pat on the head for being more nutritionally aware.
Say 'El Cubano', give me a Cuban Sandwich
I was listening to some tunes Friday morning when Tom Russell's Cuban Sandwich song came on:
"It's got two kinds of pig meat both ham and roast pork
a slice of white cheese in the shape of New York
throw on a pickle and pick up a fork
say El CUBANO, that's a Cuban sandwich"
You guessed correctly. It was a Cuban sandwich lunch for me.
There is a lot of good sandwich places in the GLOB that tout pressed Cuban sandwiches, and I have a eaten many a Cuban sandwich from different vendors here in the FLOB.
But when I think about getting that original Cuban flavor, pork roast and pressed bread it's a straight forward decision for me. (See lyrics above).
I know for a fact that Flaco's Cuban Bakery downtown adds a twist to their Cubans that really make it special for me. They call it sweet bread.
They use a special kind of Cuban bread baked special for Flaco's that is made with corn meal for the sandwich rolls. The sweetness of the corn flavor makes me smile, and become hungry, thinking about it.
I like the Cuban sandwich called the Media Noche. The M. Noche omits the ham and goes double on the roasted pork along with the standard cheese and dill pickle. This toasted delight always makes my taste buds stand up tall with pleasure.
Flaco's is an interesting little place downtown. They have taken the utilitarian approach to customer friendly surroundings witha small dining area of several unremarkable tables and a tiny TV perched high on the wall. But that hasn't stopped the return of their regular customers. Flaco's is a special place to those GLOBers that have come to expect the quality of Flaco's Spanish cuisine.
They have a varied menu of sandwiches, plates and bowls of Spanish favorites including their specialty Ropa Vieja.
I like Flaco's style, The Flaco's menu I keep handy says a lot about this Cuban lunch, sandwich shop; "We're not the first place to serve Cuban coffee or Ropa Vieja and we're definitely not going to be the last but we're going to try our hardest to make it the best."
Walking to Flaco's Cuban Bakery on University Avenue in downtown Gainesville, I was struggling with my Meatless Monday assignment. In the GLOB Master's opinion, the Flacos' Media Noche pressed sandwich is one of the better sandwiches in all of Gainesville and I am walking into the FCB and ordering something else for lunch. That wasn't making any sense to me. What makes the Media Noche so delicious is the sweeter variety of bread than the regular Cuban sandwich bread (typically a yellow egg bread). The Flaco's staffers were quick to mention they have a good list of veggie alternative sandwiches and would be happy to include black beans, rice, lentils or tempeh to any sandwich listed on their menu. That was a great idea and I ordered a Black Bean, Swiss Cheese, pickle and mustard alternative Media Noche. I included a side of fried plaintains in my Meatless Monday ALMOST Media Noche way-to-early to be an after-midnight sandwich. Lunch was excellent! The Cuban sweet bread turns any sandwich into a prize-winning lunchtime delight. The mild and flavorful chunky black beans combined with the gooey, melted Swiss cheese for a big mouthful of tasty flavor. Then I bit into the tart, sour flavor of a dill pickle and my entire lunch world was expanded exponentially by k to the 7th power (k = kosher). What a wonderful, startling tastebud surprise. The meaty, sweet, perfectly cooked plaintains were the perfect touch to an excellent Meatless Monday lunch.
The Pluses and Minuses of Flaco's Cuban Bakery:
The + indicators: Flaco's calls the tasty corn meal flour they use to make their Cuban rolls sweet bread. I call these very special Cuban sandwiches some of the best sandwiches in the Urban GLOB. Flaco's now has a second bakery located in Midtown Gainesville.
The - indicators: Flaco's is downtown, if you're not walking to lunch you are probably reducing chances of visiting this very cool, extraordinarily tasty, downtown sandwich shop.
Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Flaco's Cuban Bakery. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!
- Phone Number: 371-2000
- Address: 200 W University Ave., Gainesville, FL
- Urban GLOB Location: Downtown
- Web Site: Flacos Cuban Bakery
- Latitude: 29.652112
- Longitude: -82.326676
Melissa Kahan Wednesday, 04 June 2014 15:16 Comment Link
I had a similar experience with introducing someone, who is an avid Flaco's cuban sandwich fan, to the Media Noche sandwich recently and he orders nothing but that sandwich now. Well, the sandwich and an occasional quesito, which I introduced him too as well. The power of bread.
jim o"quinn Wednesday, 25 August 2010 15:50 Comment Link
I have eaten Cuban Sandwiches all over the country and world. Flaco's in Gainesville is one of the best. The Black beans are not that bad either.