Do you have that one dish that you just have to try, whenever you see it on a menu? For me, it is the Cuban Sandwich. Years ago I fell in love with this intriguing dish. Since then, I have tested so many varieties, that I have long since lost count. Recently, our friend Rebekah, from Visit KCK, clued us in on a new dining destination in our own hometown. When she told us that Chips & Coins was bringing Cuban to KCK, we knew it had to be sampled. We arranged to meet for lunch, at their 720 Minnesota Avenue location. 

We want to thank Visit KCK and Chips & Coins for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own. 

Chips & Coins began as a convenience store, but these days it is bringing Cuban to KCK.

Humble Beginnings

Chips & Coins had a simple enough beginning. During our visit, we spoke with Mike, the owner, who told us about the early days. When he first opened, his focus was to offer convenience store items and Moneygram options. This was sorely needed in downtown KCK, so his business quickly grew. When customers began asking for some hot food choices, he set his mind to work coming up with a potential solution. Before long, he had a small selection of crock-pot dishes available. It wasn’t long before the demand outgrew this simple approach, and Mike knew it was time to expand. It was time to begin bringing Cuban to KCK.

These delicate pastries is one way of bringing Cuban to KCK.

Surprising Start

His ethnic background brought with it a cuisine that was lacking in KCK. Mike had done a little market research, using the nearby police station. It quickly became apparent that the void of Cuban food offered an opportunity for growth. Mike watched as his little food service blossomed into a full-blown menu, filled with breakfast and lunch options. We haven’t visited at breakfast time, but I did enjoy a small cup of their Cuban Coffee. This powerful brew will perk you right up on even the foggiest of mornings.

A warm bowl of soup helps cut the chill of a cold day.

Hearty Base

Since Rebekah was joining us, it gave us an opportunity to add some extra dishes to our table. While each of us was ordering a main dish, the addition of some tasty sides offered extra samplings. First up were some delicate pastries that held a savory meat filling. We were surprised to find these delicate biscuits containing such a hearty flavor. Next up, they brought out a bowl of their Soup of the Day, which was a version of white bean soup. It was packed with vegetables, all soaking in a delectable broth. This is a perfect lunch option on a cold Kansas City day.

We love the stories behind the foods that we sample wherever we travel.

Mysterious Origin

There are times that Crystal’s choice will surprise me. This was not one of them. Before our visit, we had both previewed the online menu. Armed with a general overview of the choices, I had a feeling she would choose Elena Ruth. The combination of turkey, cream cheese, and jelly was just unique enough to pique her interest. The sandwich has an intriguing history that has been told in a variety of forms. We found the same thing with Springfield’s signature dish, the Horseshoe. (You can read about it here.) While the various stories credit different people for the start of the sandwich, it is generally agreed that it began in Cuba. If you wish to research for yourself, you may want to start with Elena Ruz Valdes-Fauli.

You can't be bringing Cuban to KCK without including a Cuban Sandwich on your menu.

Bringing Cuban to KCK

If you have followed us for a while, you know how much I love Cuban Sandwiches. I have tried many variations but was excited for the chance to sample an authentic version. Mike doesn’t mess around when bringing this unique taste to KCK. Since he was having difficulty locating a reliable source for the Cuban bread, Mike came up with his own solution. He makes it himself. This is a HUGE part of getting the right combination of flavors and textures. The other big piece of the puzzle is the pork. At Chips & Coins, they marinate their pork roast for 24 hours, before it ever hits the oven. All of this attention to detail shines through in the taste of this classic sandwich.

Ropa Vieja is one of the dishes that Mike is using as he is bringing Cuban to KCK.

Going Overboard

Now with all of this food in front of us, you can imagine our surprise when Mike brought out another plate. He wanted us to sample the Ropa Vieja (Shredded Beef), which was served with rice, black beans, and sweet plantains. You know that we couldn’t say no, especially to a plate that looked so delicious. When we tasted the shredded beef, we were surprised at how juicy and tender it was. We had to remind ourselves that Mike uses flank steak to make this dish. The flavor kept dragging us back for more and more bites. Oh, and the plantains were a sweet treat that easily replaced the need for one of the tempting desserts at Chips & Coins. It was clear that Mike was definitely bringing delicious Cuban to KCK.

The authors are joined for a selfie at Chips & Coins in downtown KCK.

Get into Downtown KCK

Our visit to Chips & Coins has once again proven something we already knew. Kansas City, Kansas is a diverse community, filled with hard-working people. When there is a void in services of options, someone will come along and fill it with a creative solution. Mike saw this situation, as it applied to bring Cuban to KCK, and has stepped up to offer a solution. We enjoy the opportunity to showcase inventive entrepreneurs like this, and it’s a bonus when they are delivering so many delicious dishes to our hometown. Stop in and give them a try, and let us know what are some of your favorites.

the authors signatures.

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