Cuban, by way of New York

cuban

After James Lambert tried his first meal at Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine during a visit to Manhattan in 2011, the D.C. resident spent the rest of the day ordering a meal at each of the chain’s remaining five locations on the island.

“I’d never had anything like it in D.C.,” says the former government employee and — since it opened last week in Dupont — the owner of the first Sophie’s franchise (1134 19th St. NW) to exist outside of New York.

Started in 1997 by a mother-daughter duo from Peru, Sophie’s has earned accolades for its pernil (roasted pork), which can be served over rice ($10) or on a traditional Cuban sandwich with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mayonnaise and mustard ($8).

Of the various hurdles Lambert encountered in bringing the Manhattan institution to D.C., perhaps the biggest was recreating its signature Cuban bread. After nearly a month of trial and error working with local bakers, Sophie’s executive chef signed off on a dense-yet-fluffy version produced by Metropolitan Baking Co. in Northeast D.C.

Holley Simmons is the dining editor of The Washington Post Express. When she’s not reporting on local restaurants and tastemakers, you can find her sewing a dress from a 1950s pattern or planting a windowsill herb garden. Contact her at holley.simmons@wpost.com.
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