Seeking sandwiches

In case you missed it, here is my review of Mundos Cafe that appeared in Thursday’s Go! section of the Monterey Herald. I’ll be reposting my reviews and stories from my weekly column for the Herald here on my blog along with extra photos that didn’t appear in print.

Lunch is a curious meal, an hour to grab a quick bite while seeking respite from the working grind of the office. Everyone has a favorite lunch spot, where we can grab a quick bite — usually a sandwich — that won’t break the bank.

The Peninsula is home to a number of sandwich shops, each with an ardent following. In Monterey alone, there’s Compagno’s Market, La Sala’s Bi-Rite Market and Deli, and Randy’s Sandwich Shop, to name a few.

A quick search on Yelp reveals Monterey's Mundos Cafe as the go-to stop for sandwiches around town.

But a quick search for “sandwiches” on Yelp reveals Mundos Cafe as the top hit. On Yelp’s recommendation, I decided to venture over to Fremont for lunch.

Pressed Cuban sandwiches aren't found on nearly enough menus around town!

On my first visit, I couldn’t resist the pressed Cuban sandwich available with a choice of meat — breaded chicken milanesa or Argentinean tri-tip — with chorizo, bacon, ham, lettuce, mozzarella and aioli on a pressed roll ($9).

I was in the mood for chicken, and added jalapeños (76 cents extra) for more kick.

Wow — this sandwich was a beast when it arrived at the table, packed with crispy chicken layered with slices of ham and crimson chorizo.

This sandwich was packed with meat, making a very filling lunch.

I just wish the flavors hadn’t become so muddled — the chorizo overpowered the other meats and was a little too greasy for me.

I found the bread a tad thick, but necessary to contain all those ingredients. And I appreciated that little bit of cheese grilled crispy on top of the bread.

On a second visit, I tried the Matador sandwich, a powerful punch of pig — center-cut bacon, chorizo, melted mozzarella, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and aioli ($6.50).

The Matador sandwich might have had too much pork for me.

I immediately felt the bitter taste of regret. Again, the chorizo wound up stealing the thunder from the rest of the ingredients.

I should have learned from my last experience, but the allure of pork clouded my judgment. I made a mental note — my next visit would include no chorizo!

Mundos is famous for its Argentinean tri-tip panini.

On my third visit, I ordered one of the famous Argentinean tri-tip panini, served with slices of tri-tip, chimichurri sauce, tomatoes and cheese ($6.99).

This sandwich convinced me why so many foodies rave about Mundos Cafe. All memories of overpowering chorizo melted away with one bite of the tri-tip sandwich.

The Argentinean tri-tip panino might be one of the best bargains in town: it's filling and doesn't cost too many pennies!

The flavors were much better balanced — tender tri-tip with the fragrant chimichurri. Think of chimichurri as Latin America’s answer to pesto — it’s a traditional grilling sauce made from parsley and other herbs mixed with olive oil and a touch of chile pepper for kick.

This sandwich is one of the best bargains on the Monterey Peninsula — it’s a filling lunch for about $7!

The menu at Mundos Cafe is pretty diverse, and I’ve sampled only a small fraction of it over three visits. (Check back for more on the burgers in a later column.)

I was perplexed by the notable absence of salads on the menu — except for a couple pre-packaged salads in the cold case. This seemed like a missed opportunity, especially considering the sandwiches are heavy on meats.

Even if some sandwiches were a little rough around the edges, brothers Eli and Fernando Mundo have a lot of heart, building a shop that’s become a popular stop for a filling, affordable lunch.

Mundos Cafe is at 2233 North Fremont St. in Monterey. 656-9244. www.mundoscafe.com.

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