Monday, April 18, 2011


This is #2. Also known as a Cuban Roast. This sandwich looks simple: a meat-based sandwich on Chinese plateware. But #2 is really something more. Oh so much more. It's....

Hold on, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take a step back.

Meet Paseo, a small, unassuming, shack of an establishment on Fremont Ave. The tin walls suggest that Paseo is more of a makeshift bunker than anything else, but one look at the huge line should tell you one of two things in Seattle: (1) there's a great concert going on, or (2) there's some great food going on. The quiet lull of Fremont Ave and the smell of grilled pork and caramelized onions make it clear that Paseo's got something delicious brewing in its bunker.

On a good day, you'll only have to wait in line for 30 minutes. On a great day, you'll wait 10 minutes. On a really lucky day, you won't have to wait at all. Chances are, however, you'll have to do more waiting than less, so make sure you get there early, or work some extra time into your lunch schedule.

During the five minutes before getting to the register, you'll see a large menu with a slew of options. Don't get distracted. Stick to a Cuban Roast, a Corn on the Cob, and a drink if you want one. I can't count the number of times I've tried their other options only to get backhanded by disappointment. Don't get me wrong, all the stuff I've tried has been great, but none of it stands up to the Cuban Roast. Yes, it's better than the Midnight Cuban Press and the Grilled Pork, and no, you don't have to worry that there's an "As Seen On TV" sticker next to the Cuban Roast. Don't argue with me on this one. If you do, it'll probably get really personal really fast.

Note: They mean it when they say "CASH ONLY," so make sure you go to Paseo armed with enough cash. If you don't have cash, you can run up a few blocks to the neighborhood market. They've got an ATM inside that charges $2.00 per withdrawal. I'm convinced that this has to be one of the most successful ATMs in Seattle that's not affiliated with any major bank.

If you've braved the line and placed your order, you get to start looking for seats like an owl looks for mice at night. On warm and sunny days, few people mind sitting outside on the curb. But on cold and rainy days, everyone's on the lookout for indoor seating. In typical Seattle fashion, however, everyone has a general idea of who was waiting for a table first. If you blatantly take a table from someone who's been waiting for a seat longer than you have, expect to get judged and told off.

If you get a seat, enjoy the view of zombie-like Seattleites waiting to get their fix of Paseo as you wait for your sandwich.

If this is your first time having Paseo, get that sandwich in your mouth ASAP. If you've had Paseo plenty of times, you probably know just as well as I do that sometimes, running back home with your sandwich instead of waiting for a table isn't the worst thing that could happen.

There it is. #2 in its full glory. Complete with unbelievably crunchy bread from Macrina Bakery, thick cuts of tender yet crispy caramelized onions, pulled morsels of marinated slow-roasted pork shoulder, a refreshing couple of romaine lettuce leaves, an addictive spread of aioli, fresh sprigs of cilantro, and perfectly situated pieces of pickled jalapeños, one bite signals one thought: This is the real deal. Though every ingredient is really amazing on its own, the jalapeños really bring together and bring out the flavors of all of the other ingredients.

Is it the wait that makes this sandwich so delicious? No. I've eaten at Paseo on beautiful sunny days, on unbearably rainy days, and at 11:00am with no wait with just as good results. The sandwich stands on its own.

Most of the time, I forget that I even got the Corn on the Cob, but I'm so glad when I remember it's there. Slathered with butter, diced garlic, salt, pepper, and olives, the corn becomes something entirely different, but is just as comforting as a good old corn on the cob. The corn does nothing to make you feel like you're eating anything close to healthy and it doesn't help you feel any better about the pork juices running down your chin, but it's worth it. I'd love to see how this corn evolves with some chargrilling action. Maybe the people at Paseo have already tried it and decided against it, but my love for barbecue tells me that it might be something worth investigating this summer.

I know this post is rife with militant caveats, but two last warnings. First, don't get to Paseo too late. They run out of sandwiches by late-lunch to mid-afternoon. Second, don't fall victim to their random monthlong break around January. Check their website before going if you're planning to go to Paseo around that time of year. They also take random breaks throughout the year, and sometimes there's no getting around what's probably going to be one of the saddest days of your life. You'll be angry with them at first, but like with any true love, you'll learn to forgive them.

All warnings aside, Paseo is an amazingly pleasant experience. The line is organized, you bond with strangers in pursuit of the same goal, and the staff is incredibly friendly. And nothing produces a good laugh quite like seeing your friend reaching for the nearest napkin with aioli and fat running down his or her chin. Needless to say, don't pass on Paseo if you're in Seattle and don't be surprised if #2 becomes your #1 favorite sandwich.

4225 Fremont Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 545-7440

GET: Cuban Roast; Corn on the Cob.


  1. You're killing me. That's one of the best sandwiches I've ever had, and I may not visit Seattle in January again.

  2. I AGREE. I dream of Paseo...and the corn...and Thai food. WHY DOES SEATTLE HAVE TO BE SO DELICIOUS!?!?!?

  3. Sudden urge to fly to Seattle RIGHT NOW.

  4. Steph: I have so much more food to show you next time you come to Seattle.

    Jan: Same thing I just said to Steph.

    Dy: Same thing I just said to Jan. So when should I pick you up from the airport? Seriously.

  5. Wait, Steph didn't try Paseo? STEPH GO NOW. SERIOUSLY.

  6. Wait, Steph definitely went to Paseo, haha. Where did you get that silly idea, Jan????


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