Tuesday, June 8

The Second Best Sandwich in the Country

Another moment in Seattle: The day before we leave for Seattle, B calls out from the living room that there is this sandwich we’ve got to try while we’re there. It is on one of those Travel/Food Network shows, and Paseo’s Cuban Roast is in the number two slot of some ever popular top whatever list. We are a bit giddy to fulfill a silly goal: to travel to some place to eat what we saw on TV.

Saturday, May 15, turns out to be the day. Paseo’s has a couple locations, and we decide we’ll go to Fremont, a cool, artsy in the let’s-build-a-giant-troll-under-the-bridge-sort-of-way suburb. We know we’ve found the place not only by the blue dot on the Google map, but by the meandering line up the sidewalk. There is no sign. The place is clad in aluminum, has glass front doors and is about 10 feet wide. Okay, maybe 15. We take our place, jaw a bit with some other folks who are here on the same quest and play on our iPhones - the device that makes waiting completely painless. A sign informs us that due to the rising cost of corn a side of it will be extra instead of coming with the sandwich. B deducts that they put it with the sandwich for a reason so he orders two Cuban Roasts with corn. Once his name is called and a heavy bag of roast pork sandwiches is in hand, we head off to a park I located on the phone while we waited.

There are maybe six places to sit in tiny Paseo’s, and unless you enjoy wild-eyed, pork-leering people streaming past as you eat, I highly recommend taking your lunch to nearby Green Lake Park.

We park the rental, locate a spot at the edge of a tree’s shadow overlooking the pretty glacially-formed lake and open the bag. This sandwich is big like a sub on the tastiest crusty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside bread. We both sit straddling the large white squares of meat-packing paper in which our sandwiches rest. The pork is tender and plain. This is not a saucy sandwich, but the juice makes it a drippy, sit-down meal. On top of the pork are super-thick onions. You know when you have a giant onion ring and the whole thing comes sliding out of the crust all in one piece? About 10 of those succulent monsters glisten on each sandwich. Finally, there’s a surprisingly light layer of mayonnaise dotted generously with sliced jalapeños. This pork-and-onion-loving, mayo-despising, might-shy-from-jalapeños gal absolutely loves it. We deem the Paseo Cuban Roast worthy of the wait in line to get it. Heck, it’s worthy of the flight.

We are in a happy stupor afterward, watching people bike, stroll, run and roll by on the paved loop. We do a lot of fun things this week in Seattle, but this is one of my favorite moments, laying back on raincoats for blankets in the grass, bellies full of yum and hearts full of happy as we lay side-by-side.

Since I know you are not content with that ending, still yearning to learn about America’s number one sandwich, I give you this.

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