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.


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    the Cuban Sandwich is one of my favorite lunches. I work right next to Cafe Cello, but I usually walk the extra 5mins to Margon. I agree with your assessment. The pork, while delicious, overwhelms in the Cello version. Ratios can make or break a sandwich, and I think Margon has a perfect balance of everything, just a better constructed sandwich.
    if I do go to cello, I skip the cuban and opt for the pork and rice platter.
    Margon is the undisputed king of the midtown cuban sandwich. However if you are willing to venture downtown, Cafe Habana in Soho has the best in NYC.

  • We discussed Cello’s “Cubano” last year. It’s not a proper Cubano. Sophie’s, a block away on 45th, serves a proper Cubano, and its steak sandwich, done in a press, is killer.

    • User has not uploaded an avatar

      Glad you linked this as I remember making a similar post. Cello makes a really good roast pork sandwich, but it’s not a Cuban.

    • Cello should be disqualified on account of not being pressed. I may be a fine sandwich, but it’s not a cuban. Not as bad as Caliente Cab Co though. I ordered a Cuban Sandwich there without reading the menu and the waitress asks me “Steak or Chicken?” Me: “Whaaaa?”

  • the cubano sandwiches I remembered getting always had a garlicky mojo(?) sauce/marinade on them to give it a kick, surprised to see neither place has it but maybe it’s not such a common thing as neither place reviewed has it.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Cello gives a green sauce on the side that is very garlicky, and I found Margon to have good garlic flavor as well. I sure as hell stunk the last time I had one from there about 2 months ago.

    I actually had been meaning to see if anyone else has felt that Margon’s quality has slipped a bit recently. It had been about 6 months since I last had one, and at that point I was swinging by about once a month. But something seemed off with the blend of flavors this last time I tried it. Still good, but not up to the usual high praise.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Yeah, where’s the spicy green sauce stuff? I love the cubano at Tina’s just for that sauce.

  • I have no where else to put this so….The new Polish truck was on 51st btwn 6&7 today. The only had Cheese/Potato and Meat Perogis, at least at 1:00 when I went. It was items 1,2,&4 on the menue (looks like #3 was erased). I forgot to inquire. Anyway, it was pretty good but a little dry. I got the combo(#4).

    Also, there is a new cart on 52nd bwtn 6&7. I know it’s new because there is a big sign that says “First Day”. It’s rather comical. The guy bought an old Halal cart (with pics) and taped white cardboard of the pics with his menu items. It’s thai food.
    Anyone try it today?

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    The counter ladies at Margon are the best.

  • So I have to say, after this article I went over to Cafe Cello for the cuban… it was terrific! Warm and full of flavor and overloaded with pork. I’ve been two times since and today I brought my co-workers because the last time they all asked where I got my sandwich. I got my sandwich back to the office and I can happily say Cafe Cello must have read the comments because now the sandwich was pressed. No grill marks just mushed down for a second on the panini press… ok, mediocre attempt but the inexcusable happened. I ate the first half of my sandwich and asked “where is the roast pork?!” Something you never want to ask yourself. Well, the answer was that there was barely any on it and my co-workers said is this the place you were getting your good looking cubans from? Ugh… defeat. Check it out —-> yep, two sad small little pieces and i think the other half had even less.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    i love your use of a metrocard for scale. you must be a scientist.

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