Sophie's Cuban

Cuban
$$$$ ($14 and under)
'

Editorial Review

Sophie's Cuban is a chain from New York, but don't be skeptical: man, are we glad it came here. The first Sophie's outside of the Big Apple opened at 1134 19th Street NW, and it was full to the brim with roasted pork deliciousness.

We sampled the fried pork with sweet plantains, the traditional Cubano with ham, pork, pickles and Swiss, and our favorite: The roast pork with sweet plantains, onions, mayo and Sophie's signature green sauce (all $8.49). On the side, we were unanimously wowed by the papa rellena, a mashed-potato croquette stuffed with ground beef stew. Smother it in green sauce and it's hearty enough to be a lunch in and of itself, and for only $2.79.

We washed it all down with a watermelon soda that was an alarmingly neon pink, and tasted exactly like Jolly Rancher. Next time, we'd probably opt for a shake instead ($3.99), which you can get in flavors like tamarindo, papaya and guanabana.

Sandwiches are made to order, and specials, like shredded beef stew and spicy grilled chicken ($9.49-$11.49), are in wells as you make your way through the line. The setup inside the narrow, steam-filled restaurant is a bit confusing, but we'll attribute it to opening kinks being worked out.

--Maura Judkis, October 2013