The Subject: Cubano, from Midtown lunch counter Margon.
My first job in New York, as many have been since, was in Midtown, on the periphery of Times Square—a neighborhood I quickly learned to loathe. It’s a toss-up which grated more: The slow-moving groups of tourists, meandering four-abreast down the street, gawking at the sights, or the overpriced-yet-mediocre cookie-cutter midday-meal options, which, no matter the ingredients, all manage to taste pretty much the same. As this was before there was an entire website devoted to avoiding just such establishments, I’d almost resigned myself to a spate of uninspired ten-dollar lunches when a coworker (and Miami transplant) introduced me to blink-and-you-miss-it Margon. Happiness—and weight gain—ensued.
Outer Goods: Nothing fancy here, just a standard sub roll that’s been toasted and pressed into submission on a foil-lined grill.
Inner Beauty: This is where it gets good. A trifecta of pig—ham, salami, and sandwich-MVP roast pork—is loaded onto the bottom half of that roll, layered with a few slices of cheese, and lovingly tended to by the grill maestro. When the bread is crusty, the meat steaming-hot, and the cheese fully melted, it’s strewn with thinly sliced dill pickles and doused with the diner’s choice of condiments. I like mine with everything: easy on the mayo and two mustards (brown and yellow), heavy on the hot and garlic-vinegar sauces.
Accessories: The cubano is a meal (or two, depending on your appetite) in its own right. Pair it with a stack of napkins and a spicy ginger beer to counteract both grease and garlic sauce, and you may not need to eat again until breakfast.
The Verdict: Just as good now as it was ten years ago, and, remarkably, about the same price, this sandwich has never met a hangover it couldn’t cure. I still consider Margon itself a go-to for cheap, filling Cuban food (also try the octopus salad) when I’m in the area—good news, because those tourists still haven’t learned to navigate a city sidewalk. Some things never change.
136 West 46th Street
New York, NY