Bring up Caribbean flavors and sandwich presses, and most folks will think of the Cubano, the roast pork/ham/cheese pressed sandwich that actually originated among Cuban ex-pats in Florida. As it happens, the Cubano isn't the end of that story, as a visit to Tostado Sandwich Bar, a Hyde Square maker of Dominican sandwiches, demonstrates. This sunny little storefront with a stand-up counter that fits maybe three customers offers sandwiches and smoothie-like batidos to a mostly Spanish-speaking crowd. Counter help with decent English and a well-translated menu make this an easy place for Anglos to enjoy, too.
A tostado completo ($7.50) is typical of the 15 sandwiches here: a crusty nine-inch roll filled with a single slice of ham, a lot of tender, hand-shredded pernil (slow-roasted pork shoulder), pollo (similarly slow-roasted and hand-shredded dark-meat chicken), mayo, onion, and ketchup (a popular Dominican add-on I prefer to omit), toasted and warmed through on a smooth-surfaced sandwich press. It's fantastic: multi-layered in flavor and just a little fatty, the press adding a pleasant crunch and flattened, easy-to-bite profile. The Havana Cubano ($7.50) includes lettuce and tomato, and instead of layers of ham and sliced pork loin boasts a single slice of ham, a lot of shredded pernil, some Swiss cheese, a scanty pickle slice or two, and yellow mustard. It's delicious, but might confound customers expecting a Miami-style Cubano. The Real Domincano ($4.99) jazzes up an ordinary pressed ham and Dominican cheese with sliced green tomato. Before 11 am, you can order breakfast sandwiches ($4.99–$5.99) pressed on whole-grain Pullman with a fried egg, cheese, and optional ham or bacon.
Beverages include beautiful, fresh-tasting batidos ($2.99–$3.50) of fresh tropical fruits like mamey, strawberries, mangoes, pineapples, or bananas, blending with sugar, evaporated milk, and ice into a pleasant slush. Fresh-squeezed juice drinks include carrot juice ($2.99), morir soñando ($3.50), a sort of Dominican Orange Julius, and orange or lemon juice ($2.99) mixed with avena (oatmeal). Dessert options (all $2.99) include wedges of cheesecake and chocolate cake made off-premises, and a lovely pastel tres leches that looks house-made: sweet white cake sitting in a rich sauce of evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. Aside from desserts, the brief menu is done with fresh ingredients to order, a process which can seem leisurely when there's a line out the door. Expectations of fast-food quickness or health-food wholesomeness may be dashed, but Tostado surely delivers its fresh, vibrant, satisfying flavors for short money.
Tostado, located at 300 Centre Street, in Jamaica Plain, is open daily from 9 am–10 pm. Call 617.477.8691.