I don’t eat lunch out often during the week when I’m at work, normally I just brown-bag it. Last Thursday we were having a “technical summit” at the office and lunch was to be provided. Unfortunately I had a couple of work tasks crop up that I had to take care of and wasn’t able to make it downstairs for the presentations or lunch. I texted ConnieLou and told her that I needed to grab lunch and that I would probably head up the street to the QT and get something quick off the roller-bar and a Coke. She suggested that I grab something good somewhere instead. Even though our office is close to Buckhead (actually we’re in Brookhaven), we don’t have an abundance of good places to eat close by…OK, at least not an abundance of places that I’m willing to deal with the traffic to drive too.

As I went about my morning’s work I remembered that the Havana Sandwich Shop had just reopened up the street a mile or so from the office. The Havana Sandwich Shop on Buford Highway at North Druid Hills is an Atlanta institution. The shop was opened in 1976 as the Havana Restaurant and operated in the same location until 2008 when the shop burned. Following the fire, the owners opened a new location farther north a few miles up Buford Highway. Recently the original location was rebuilt and reopened. The other shop continues to operate as a second location. According to the owner, who was working the counter when I placed my order, they’re still working on expanding the kitchen and the menu at the ‘new’ original location.

I was in the mood for a classic Cuban sandwich and opted for the #17 Cuban Plate, a Cuban sandwich with black beans and yellow rice on the side and a drink.

OK, let me take a quick detour here. A Cuban sandwich is the only sandwich I like with pickles on it (sorry Chick-Fil-A). A Cuban without a couple of slices of a good dill pickle is…well…just a roast pork, ham and cheese sandwich. It’s got to have the pickle.

Back to the food… I took my lunch back to the office and sat down at my desk to eat. If it weren’t for the plethora of papers on my desk and the absence of street sounds and latin music, for a couple of minutes I could have imagined myself at a café in Little Havana area of Miami. The sandwich was thick and juicy and nicely pressed and the rice and beans were both sweet and tangy. I’ve heard quite a few folks say that the Havana Sandwich Shop makes one of the two best Cuban sandwiches in Atlanta. I’ve had both and would have a tough time choosing between the two.

So how did the Havana Sandwich Shop rank on the Thumbs Scale? If you haven’t already guessed I gave it two thumbs…and lets add in a few toes. Keep in mind, this is just my opinion and is based on one dish during one visit. But…considering this is a restaurant that has thrived in Atlanta for nearly 40 years, I doubt that I’m too far off with my rating. Check it out.

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