The Ram’s Ricardo burger is the big, beefy brother of the Cuban sandwich, a much-adored sandwich in the southeastern United States. Think of a Cuban in these terms: it’s a pork-filled, puckery grilled cheese sandwich.
A traditional Cuban is made on crusty bread grilled on something called a plancha press (read: a flat-top version of a panini) or a flat-top grill, and starts with either cheddar or American cheese. Those middle school flavors are kicked up to college level with the addition of thick-sliced ham, roasted pork, mustard and sliced pickles.
Depending upon the source, the Cuban was either born as cafeteria cuisine; or it was a favorite sandwich of sugar mill workers and dates back to the 1930s or earlier. Read more about that here.
So take that porky, mustardy, dill filled grilled cheese sandwich and translate it into burger form: It’s a win.
The Ram’s Ricardo ($12.99) started with a soft, squishy long roll with a thick, meaty, juicy burger patty topped with melted Swiss (note: my burger came with significant pink without my asking; If that makes you squeamish, you may want to specify your preference when you order). So what’s better than pork on a burger? Two kinds of pork on a burger. Chewy, salty ham was layered on top of the burger, and a pile of shredded pork topped the ham. Crunchy horseradish dill pickle chips hit my nose before my mouth; a powerful nasal sting is a very good thing in this burger. Dijon mayo added a layer of creamy decadence. Before the Ricardo, I thought a bacon cheeseburger was the ultimate in pork-filled burger goodness. I was mistaken.
If only more restaurants in Tacoma offered Cuban sandwiches, or burgers like this, for that matter. I do know of one other Cuban sandwich in town. It’s on the lunch menu at Pacific Grill. It’s called a Juny’s Cuban Sandwich ($11.50) and is French bread Panini with pulled roasted pork, ham, gruyere cheese, pickles and mustard, with a side of house-made potato chips.
Know where to get a Cuban in a South Sound restaurant? Comment here, please.
The Ram Restaurant and Brewery
Locations in: Tacoma, Puyallup (2), Lakewood and Lacey
Addresses to restaurants and website here.