Is This the Best Cuban Sandwich in Houston?
While visiting the new My Food Park HTX last week, I made it a point to grab lunch from two food trucks I'd never eaten at before. Speers Rolling Bistro was one of those two, and although I'd always seen its updates on Twitter I'd never gotten around to visiting. My mistake. My monumental mistake.
In theory, I like Cuban sandwiches. I like the idea of a fancy double ham-and-cheese sandwich, with the roasted pork paired up against sweet ham and melting Swiss cheese under a length of soft, thin bread. I like the idea of sticking crunchy dill pickles and coarse, spicy mustard in there too. It all sounds delicious in theory.
But the Cuban sandwiches I've had nearly everywhere in Houston suffer a variety of ailments: the wrong bread—usually too thick—is used, or there's awful French's yellow mustard swiped in there, or there's one lone pickle hiding out somewhere. However, the biggest problem is usually the roasted pork: dry, tough, and scabby.
So it was with great trepidation that I ordered a Cuban sandwich from Speers last week. Chef and owner Shawn Speers sold me on the pork first: slow-roasted Kurobuta Berkshire, cooked in a marinade for up to 12 hours. And I spied something interesting on the menu: in addition to the regular accoutrements, Speers also added orange-chile aioli and caramelized onions to its Cuban. Even if the pork was dry, I reasoned, those two ingredients sounded good enough to rescue the rest of the sandwich. I added a side of garlic fries to my order and hung back with baited breath.
I shouldn't have been worried; the sandwich blew me away. The orange-chile aioli added the perfect little spark of bright citrus and heat to the thick cushions of roasted pork that filled out the sandwich, its sweetness coaxed out even further by the caramel notes of those slow-cooked onions. And where a normal Cuban only gets a subtle layer of creaminess from a slice or two of Swiss, the sandwich from Speers was rich all the way through thanks to that aioli, the softened onions, that incredibly tender pork and—of course—ample Swiss cheese. A little dill pickle relish and some nicely toasted Cuban bread gave it all the crunch it needed. I've had and hated plenty of Cuban sandwiches in Houston; it was such a surprise and a pleasure to finally encounter one that wasn't just good but truly great.
The crispy fries, too, were ideal on the side. The amount of fresh garlic on the hand-cut fries was electrifying; I knew I'd be sweating it out of my pores for days, yet kept gladly digging in until the entire olive oil-drizzled mess was gone. And I found out along the way that it's not just orange-chile aioli Speers does well; the fruit-spiked ketchup served with its fries reminds me of the homemade ketchup at Bernie's Burger Bus, but better. As if I'm not spoiled enough by the ability to buy both Bernie's ketchup and Whataburger's spicy ketchup in stores, I'll be lobbying for Speers to release its recipe now too.
You can follow Speers Rolling Bistro on Twitter to keep track of the truck's schedule, or check its website for an entire month's schedule in advance. Thanks to all the new food truck parks that keep popping up, there's a good chance Speers is rolling your way soon.