Cuban Sandwich Battle: Cafe Cello vs. Margon
When talking about Cuban sandwiches, the names I see mentioned most frequently on Midtown Lunch are Cafe Cello (on 46th btw. 5+6th) and Margon (on 46th btw. 6+7th), both reviewed several times over the past few years. Being a huge fan of the roast pork platter at Cafe Cello, and having heard terrific things about the Cubano at Margon, I took it upon myself to grab a Cuban sandwich from each place in the same afternoon. I snagged a willing co-worker from the office and we agreed to eat half and half of each.
A Cuban sandwich typically contains roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. At Café Cello, these ingredients spend some time on the grill before being piled onto warm, fluffy bread. The end result (pictured below) is toasty, sizable, and attractive.
At Margon, the ingredients are slapped together first and then all placed in a Panini press. The press ensures everything is heated and holds together, but makes for a sloppier presentation (pictured below).
There are a few key differences worth noting here. Both sandwiches have similarly unremarkable ham, but Margon also throws salami into the mix, which I found to be a very nice touch. The pickles on Café Cello’s sandwich are sliced into large chunks, while Margon’s are smaller, round, and wavy. Café Cello is undeniably the drier sandwich – there’s some mustard, but Margon has more and is also drizzled with a good amount of mayo.
In regard to the pork, I think Café Cello has an edge. Nothing wrong with Margon, but Café Cello’s roast pork is particularly awesome. My sandwich half had crispy bits, fatty, flavorful bits, and there was generally more of it. Overall, I think the Café Cello sandwich ($7.50 post-tax) may be bigger than Margon’s ($7.65 post-tax) by a hair, but they’re both perfectly filling.
Ultimately, Margon’s Cubano is a mess of tasty ingredients, and while a somewhat different take on the traditional Cuban sandwich, everything blends nicely and all parts of the sandwich complement one another. Café Cello, on the other hand, seems to be all about the pork. None of the other ingredients do much to draw attention away from the pork, which is juicy, plentiful, and clearly the star of the sandwich.
If I were forced to pick a favorite of the two, I may opt for Margon, but that answer could change depending on my mood. Midtown Lunch’ers, where do you stand? Let’s hear in the comments.