Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: El Cubano

Where: Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, 706 S. Eugene Road, Palm Springs

How much: $9.50

Contact: 760-832-9007;

Why: It is a tasty creation all its own.

As I ordered my El Cubano sandwich at gourmet vegan restaurant Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, the woman taking my order asked if it was my first time at the restaurant.

“Yep!” I said.

“Oh, you’re going to love it!” said the woman behind me.

As I waited for my to-go order—all of the limited seating space was taken—we chatted a bit. I told her I was trying Chef Tanya’s Kitchen—the newest endeavor of Tanya Petrovna, the founder of the Native Foods Café—even though I am a confirmed meat-eater, because so many people had raved to me about the place. The woman explained she’d recently become vegan, and was losing a lot of weight as a result.

We then talked about the menu—salads, sandwiches and specials, like tacos on Tuesdays, and dinner items on Wednesdays—and I asked if she’d ever ordered the Pastrami Mami sandwich. No, she responded; she’s not a fan of sauerkraut.

“Oh, that sandwich is what made me start to like sauerkraut!” another diner exclaimed.

I thought to myself: Wow, the customers here are really gung-ho about the food at Chef Tanya’s Kitchen!

When I got home and took a bite of my sandwich, I began to understand why. When done right, a Cuban sandwich is one of my favorite foods. Chef Tanya’s version subs out the usual ham and pork for slow-roasted citrus and garlic seitan, and while I can’t say the seitan made me forget about the absence of those meats, it made for a damn tasty sandwich. It melded with the tomatoes, pickles, onions, lettuce, mustard, mayo and freaking amazing bread to create a hot-pressed delight. To my palate, this El Cubano didn’t taste exactly like a Cuban sandwich; instead, it tasted like something different—but equally delicious.

I may still be a confirmed meat-eater—but I’ll certainly be a regular at Chef Tanya’s Kitchen. Her vegan fare is simply fantastic.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Cubano With Tomato Soup

Where: Zobö and Meester’s, 68703 Perez Road, No. A1, Cathedral City

How Much: $7.99

Contact: 760-832-6104;

Why: It’s comforting and delicious.

The invitation came via email on a Saturday. Bart and Carmen wanted to let me know they’d just opened a new restaurant on Perez Road in Cathedral City.

“Everything is made from scratch. Please come in and give us a try. The community support has been amazing so far,” the email said.

The following Monday, I was hungry and had errands to run in the general vicinity—so I decided to check out this new joint, with the interesting name of Zobö and Meester’s. A little lawn sign out front touted the Cubano sandwich, so I decided that was the thing to try.

When I ordered at the counter, the friendly woman asked which side I wanted. Macaroni, pasta or potato salad? Fries? Coleslaw? Or, even though it was 107 degrees outside, the tomato soup?

Ooh, yes, the tomato soup, I replied. It would give me something in which to dip the sandwich. What a fortuitous decision this was: The combination of the grilled panini and the soup was fantastic.

The sandwich in and of itself was great: The mixture of ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and mustard aioli was splendid. The soup in and of itself was also very good: It had a fresh, savory flavor.

But when I put the two together … wow. The soup softened the bread just enough to make it easier on the mouth. The appropriate saltiness of the meat and the tartness of the pickle were balanced by the vegetable flavor of the soup. It was, in sum, comforting and delicious.

Zobö and Meester’s offers waffles (with chicken!), a burrito and bagel sandwiches for breakfast. Lunch offerings include a bunch of sandwiches both hot and cold, as well as salads and a handful of specialty entrees. But we’ll be ordering the Cubano with tomato soup more often than not. You know why.

Published in The Indy Endorsement