Paseo Caribbean Restaurant

Caribbean | Cuban | Sandwich Shop
Memorable
One of the best
Save

When Paseo abruptly closed back in November, 2014, Seattle sandwich lovers sobbed. This brash little eatery (actually two eateries, in Ballard and Fremont) had developed a huge reputation – a nationwide reputation – for great Cuban-style sandwiches since it opened in the early 1990s. Owner Lorenzo Lorenzo, taken down by a labor dispute, went bankrupt. The next month, the restaurant’s name and assets were bought in auction; and buyer Ryan Santwire reopened in January, promising the same menu, many of the same staff, and the same outstanding bread from Macrina Bakery. In fact, he pledged that he wouldn’t run out of bread mid-lunch as was common in Paseo’s early days.

So what is all the fuss about? It is about marinated roast pork cooked until butter tender and piled in great large chunks into the capacious maw of toasted-crisp baguettes; it is about thick leaves of onion that are sautéed low and slow so they soften and turn caramel sweet, becoming ribbons of succulence so compelling that one popular meatless sandwich on the menu is, quite simply, a heap of onions, greens, peppers, and spice. Paseo’s appeal also is about smoke-cured ham, meaty Tiger prawns, grilled-and-roasted skin-on chicken thighs, and great slatherings of garlicky aioli. Our Seattle friend Kelly even clued us in to the delights of the kitchen’s tofu sandwich in which garlic tapenade elevates soy protein to a state of meat-like deliciousness.

While superb sandwiches are the main reason people love Paseo, passion for it also arises from a rollicking, rough-and-tumble ambiance. It is truly a shack with such limited seating that most customers eat outside on the sidewalk, in their cars, or somewhere else they can get comfortable with food that is tremendously, unavoidably messy and drippy. Place your order at the counter and pay (the new ownership now takes credit cards!), then wait for your number to be yelled at full volume above the inevitable din of the little dining area, at which point it is your job to fetch the freshly-made and ready-wrapped food. Cramped quarters intensify not only the noise, but the smell from the kitchen, which is just behind the order counter, sending seductive aromas of roasting pork and cooking onions out to coil among customers. The smell of Paseo is a perfume that permeates clothing for hours after the meal.

Note: Paseo has a second location at 1760 1st Ave. S, in Seattle. (206-420-7781)

What to Eat
Paseo Caribbean Restaurant, Caribbean Roast Sandwich
Caribbean Roast Sandwich
Must-Try
Caribbean Roast, according to the menu, is the kitchen's most popular sandwich. It is a massive amount of marinated, slow-roasted pork shoulder dressed with aioli, cilantro, jalapeno chips, lettuce, and a generous portion caramelized onions.
Paseo Caribbean Restaurant, Paseo Press Sandwich
Paseo Press Sandwich
Must-Try
While it is not a purist's version of a Cuban sandwich, the one known as a Paseo Press is crisped the traditional way, in a press, and it contains both pork and ham as well as Swiss cheese. Unlike the traditional Cuban, this one also contains sweet banana peppers and caramelized onions. Glory be!
Paseo Caribbean Restaurant, Onion Obsession Sandwich
Onion Obsession Sandwich
Must-Try
Known as the 'Onion Obsession,' this monomaniacal sandwich is all about onions – a pile-up of slick, sweet, caramelized ribbons sautéed with garlic tapenade along with cilantro and jalapeno peppers.
Paseo Caribbean Restaurant, Paseo Prawns
Paseo Prawns
There are many non-sandwich items on the Paseo menu, too. This is 'Paseo Prawns': 6 Tiger shrimp in a flamboyant red pepper sauce, accompanied by black beans, jasmine rice, a length of corn on the cob, pickled beets, and purple cabbage.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday11am - 7pm
MondayCLOSED
Tuesday11am - 9pm
Wednesday11am - 9pm
Thursday11am - 9pm
Friday11am - 9pm
Saturday11am - 8pm
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
Yes
Website

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