He says a neighborhood cafe near West Town combines both Cuban and Mexican flavors on its limited menu, resulting in some creative, delicious sandwich-making.
There is a palpable energy behind the counter and in the tiny kitchen at Nini's Deli - a family-run joint in West Town serving a limited menu of empanadas and sandwiches.
"My dad was born in Cuba, but my mom is Mexican. So they came together to make their own unique twist on Cuban food," said Owner Juan-Elias Riesco.
That twist shows up in the ropa vieja.
"Traditionally served on a plate, with rice and beans and steamed veggies. Here at Nini's we kind of drew a little bit more from our Mexican culture and we do it in a burrito - a spinach tortilla actually," said Riesco.
That shredded, seasoned beef has the requisite rice and beans, but also fresh avocado, mayo and an omelet. Empanadas are also made from scratch - the beef and the chicken are two of their best sellers. Be sure to try a hibiscus lemonade or cafe con leche - both made in-house. For a hearty option, the Medianoche contains griddled turkey with mustard, pickles and guava sauce - there's the Cuban influence - that bread is constantly being toasted in the panini press to keep the outside crisp. And that comes in handy with their Cubano sandwich, which looks nothing like what you'd see in a Cuban restaurant.
"It is meatless, but it lacks nothing. So it's got a layer of seasoned black beans, it's got sweet plantains, an omelet and cheese and then we throw some avocado slices on there," he said.
They always have a trio of sandwiches here at Nini's but they also have one or two daily specials, and since today was the Kitchen Sink, I think I picked the right day to visit.
In this week's "Extra Course," Steve talks about two of the deli's dessert options - ice cold paletas - which come in some surprisingly delicious flavors.
543 N Noble St