The story of Seattle’s two premier Caribbean sandwich shops, Paseo and Un Bien, is a sordid one.
In 2014, the Lorenzo family closed Paseo in dramatic fashion, forced to declare bankruptcy overnight. New owners swept up what was left, hired back the old staff, and returned business to normal. Lore has it the
new spot didn’t have access to the old recipes, but seeing a replica of their signature sandwich is widely available, I don’t really buy it. I’m sure the longtime employees were able to figure things out just fine.
In 2016, the Lorenzo family opened their
new old Paseo, Un Bien. Their menu is largely the same as Paseo’s, and locals have firmly chosen their favorite spot.
Which one is actually the best, though? In this first Smackdown series, we’ll compare the signature sandwiches from both Paseo and Un Bien, and decide once and for all which reigns supreme.
Round one: Paseo
Paseo’s hubris is laudable, proclaiming that the
Famous Caribbean Roast is
rated best sandwich in America.
Rated by whom? you may ask. That is an unknown, but I suppose I can see why the sandwich has achieved sort of a legendary status. The slow-roasted pork shoulder is brilliantly tender, and the secret marinade has a deep, yet mellow palate. The meat is not spicy – though the pickled jalapeños add a kick – but rather sweet and citric, and the juices meld with the pork’s natural fats. The side effect is that the sandwich is also very greasy.
I get it. That is part of the allure and experience, but I honestly don’t find slithery hands that charming. This is a sandwich where napkins won’t do, and a towel is required.
Still, the baguette does an admirable job soaking up as much juice as it can muster. There is an obvious overflow, but a poorly baked bread would not be able to withstand all of these liquids. If it’s good flavorwise is hard to say – the meat and aioli is too overpowering to tell. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, just something to keep in mind – this is a utilitarian baguette.
I do get Paseo’s renown. Any spot that serves
Famous Caribbean Roast deserves it. Outside of Un Bien, I can’t really think of any sandwiches quite like the signature choice. The greasiness is certainly an annoyance, but one worth enduring.
Best sandwich in America? That remains to be seen.
Coming soon: Round two: Un Bien.
Now you vote!
4225 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
Phone: (206) 545-7440
Web: Visit website