CHASING THE MAP

Panaderia La Viequense, The Bakery Making Delicious Cubano’s

This is going to be short and sweet. I visited the Panaderia la Viequense on a weekday during the slow season. It’s an orange building right as you come into the town of Isabel, on your right. I kept hearing how they made some of the best sandwiches around. I’d been making my own at home, figuring that it would be cheaper, until I heard they had a Cuban sandwich that was to die for. That being said, I had to go and check it out!

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CASH ONLY, SO LEAVE YOUR CREDIT CARDS AT HOME! PRICES ARE CHEAP, THOUGH, SO YOU WON’T BREAK THE BANK.

I showed up after the lunch hour, and it didn’t appear all that busy. I know that looks can be deceiving, because many locals will call in their orders ahead of time for pick-up. That can sometimes confuse us visitors, as we think we’re dropping further back in the queue as the locals are cutting ahead. Not the case, at least most of the time, I’m sure.

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I have not had anything off of the breakfast menu yet, though I’m tempted to return for some pastries and a nice hot cup of coffee. I’ve been drinking instant coffee in the mornings, something I haven’t done since college. I’m sure you’ll agree that although convenient, it’s a far cry from a brewed cup of joe.

So walking in, I already knew what I was going to order. They have a decent selection of sandwiches, most with meat. I went over to the counter and ordered my sandwich, as there was nobody ahead of me. There was a group eating already at a table, and a lone woman enjoying her lunch. There are tables scattered throughout, and a long counter with a full length mirror on the opposite wall.

The prices on the menu board appeared very reasonable to me, especially for the Cuban. $6.95 plus tax for this hearty sandwich rivaled even the prices at home.

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As I waited for my order, I went and looked down at the pastry case, which had a small assortment of delectables. I should have bought some flan, but for some regrettable reason later when I kicked myself for not having bought it, I held off.

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The bakery is very casual, with old time photos of happenings around the island for decoration.

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My only negative comment about this visit was the woman making my sandwich. Let me be clear about something first. I am on full-blown island time. I’m NOT in a hurry, anywhere I go. So as I’m patiently waiting for my sandwich to be made, which she had started, a woman enters the bakery that the sandwich maker clearly knew. She then proceeded to stop making my sandwich and join her friend at the counter, who was showing her a tote bag and some tank tops. I was thinking that was a little strange, but okay, whatever. No worries. But she proceeded to talk, and look, and talk some more and now I’m thinking this lady is really being a bit rude. I’m wondering to myself, would she be doing this if I were a “local?”

I’m actually picturing the locals laughing aloud at this, thinking that yes, yes she would!

After about 10 minutes she went back to making my sandwich. You can only pretend to look at your cellphone for so long when you don’t even have internet service. I hope that she washed her hands.

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I sat down at the long counter in the back and proceeded to savor, then devour, my ENTIRE Cuban sandwich. I’m sure I could have taken some to go, but I chose not to. The bread was phenomenal. Slightly sweet, but with a crunch, and pressed thin. Sliced pork and ham were slathered with mustard and melted cheese with pickles on the bottom. I made myself eat every last bite, even though I felt like a stuffed sausage afterwards.

I couldn’t wait to call me husband (also a lover of the Cuban sandwich) and brag that I’d eaten the best one that I’d ever had in my life. Sorry babe!

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