Carteles is a sunny spot, decorated in bright yellow and blue with perky wicker stools and tile mosaics. The Cuban sandwich and coffee bar opened almost a month ago, the first outpost in what will be Cienfuegos, a three-part enterprise offering a rum bar upstairs, a proper Cuban restaurant downstairs, and Carteles tucked to one side. Today, the whine of a power saw upstairs could be heard, and the counter guy said that the bar will be open in the next few weeks, the sit-down restaurant in a month or so. The eating-and-drinking complex is the creation of partners from the Bourgeois Pig, Desnuda and Mayahuel, who are creating a nice little East Village empire for themselves.
The marquee Cubano is judiciously constructed–thin layers of roast pork, ham, provolone, pickles and garlicky yellow mustard, pressed into crisp submission. You get a bit of each component in every mouthful, including the tart pickles. Maybe the roast pork isn’t the most luscious lechon you’ve ever had, but it does the trick. The sandwich costs $8.50 — not a deal, but about the going rate for the neighborhood — and comes with plantain chips.
After the Cubano, the menu lists four other sandwiches: A sloppy joe made with ropa vieja; a bitter-orange chicken sandwich, a vegetarian option filled with grilled vegetables and sofrito, and a Cubano cristo. The last is a take on a media noche, basically a pork sandwich on egg bread — here, the Cubano dipped in egg and fried. Hello.
The jardinero is essentially ratatouille with provolone on a roll. It’s tasty, although it doesn’t hold together as well as its pressed cousins, easily spilling its load of charred zucchini, red and green peppers, and red onions.
Get a sweet, strong cafe Cubano while you wait for your sandwiches to be pressed.
443 East 6th Street