The Sandwich: The Veggie Cuban
Where: Colada Shop, 1405 T St. NW
Bread: Cuban bread
Stuffings: Mojo-marinated portobello mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, pickles, Swiss cheese, cilantro aioli, mustard
Thickness: 1 inch
Pros: The traditional porky characteristics of the Cuban sandwich are swapped out for portobello mushrooms in this meatless option. The mushrooms—which normally turn out mushy and only add weight, not flavor—gain some depth thanks to a funky marinade. A solid base of cheese, mustard, and pickles ties the sandwich to the original.
Cons: Roasted cauliflower, present in every single bite, tastes bland and feels dry. The whole sandwich needs a bit of salt, which could be remedied if the cilantro aioli were applied more liberally. Right now, the herby spread is overpowered by bolder condiment flavors, like the mustard and pickles.
Sloppiness level (1 to 5): 1. The Colada Shop griddles are clearly working because the Swiss cheese is perfectly melted and stringy, but all of the fillings stay safely tucked inside the bread.
Overall score (1 to 5): 4. That a meatless alternative can even come close to the level of a classic Cuban is significant enough, but by combining a variety of textures with traditional elements, Colada Shop has created one of the best vegetarian sandwiches in the city. Reducing the amount of cauliflower and boosting the helping of the aioli would only improve it.