The Best Elena Ruz In Miami

Her legacy became a delicious sandwich. May we all be so lucky.
Turkey sandwich with a side of strawberry jelly.


As the legend goes: there was once a young Cuban woman named Elena Ruz, who liked to visit a restaurant called El Carmelo after long nights out with her friends in Havana. And she would always order the same thing: a turkey sandwich with strawberry jam and cream cheese, pressed between medianoche bread. She ordered it so often, the restaurant decided to put it on their menu. This being the 1920s (and as anyone with a Cuban mother would know), her family was absolutely mortified at the possibility that she would be remembered as a sandwich. But the Cuban socialite was ecstatic. And Elena Ruz’s story lives on in menus across Miami a century later. Here are our favorites.





$$$$Perfect For:LunchWalk-InsSerious Take-Out Operation
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The Doral sandwich shop feels more like a sandwich library. The menu items are named after literary characters from 17th-century Spanish novels and each sandwich is crafted with the same passion you'd see from an archivist tasked with repairing the spines of medieval books. The "Doña Elena" is their take on the Elena Ruz sandwich. The homemade strawberry jam comes on the side so you can build your own sweet and savory bite. And no element inside the sandwich—from the cream cheese to the turkey ham—outshines the other.

It may not be the best Cuban restaurant in Miami (although certainly the most famous in the country), but it does have an excellent Elena Ruz. And it all comes down to the ratio. Whereas most of the other sandwiches on this guide lean heavier on one ingredient over another, Versailles’ is so perfect, it fits the fibonacci sequence. It’s the ideal amount of turkey, jam, and cream cheese.

This one is for all the sweet tooths out there. There’s so much strawberry jam on this sandwich, it slips and slides between your fingers. That’s not a bad thing if you’re willing to get a little dirty. Rinconcito Superlatino III is at the end of the Old Cutler bike trail, so their elena ruz is the perfect sandwich to order at their ventanita and pop into the back of your cycling jersey before you get back on the trail. Don’t worry, they wrap it up tightly, so no one’s going to think you’re bleeding out strawberry jam.

Inspired by Elena Ruz (the person), we like to customize Morro Castle’s elena ruz (the sandwich) and make up our own rules. So we substitute the turkey for ham. Let the purists judge, but sometimes turkey is kind of boring, and flavorless. Ham has a saltier, smoky flavor that balances out the tangy cream cheese and sweet jam—and Morro Castle thankfully lets us put our theory to the test. Our hope is to keep ordering it this way until they decide to name it after us.

Sergio’s menu isn’t our favorite. For some reason, they’ve decided that having a “la flaca” section is more important than listing their croquetas. But you should ask for them—and ask for an elena ruz too (also an off-menu item, for some reason). The medianoche bread on this sandwich is perfectly toasted. And if you’re the kind of person who likes to order extra cream cheese on your bagel, then you’re going to like this one. They go heavy on the Philadelphia.

This is the meatiest elena ruz we’ve had in Miami. And if you’re looking for one that resembles a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich, go to La Carreta. The turkey slices are stacked on top of each other like those books you can’t seem to finish. But it’s not a dry sandwich. There’s enough jam and cream cheese that it drips down onto the plate. Just make sure you’re not operating any heavy machinery after you eat it—the amount of tryptophan in this sandwich will put anyone to sleep.

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