Looking for an authentic (and really awesome) Cuban sandwich? I was after I saw the Cuban Sandwich episode of “Throw-Down with Bobby Flay.” To be perfectly frank, I thought the odds of finding even a passable one in Birmingham, Alabama, to be somewhere between slim and none. Boy, was I wrong!
As luck, kismet, or karma would have it, one of the best Cubans in the South just happens to be made right here for lunch and dinner, six days a week.
Kool Korner was founded in 1985, in Atlanta, Georgia, by Ildefonso and Lucia Ramirez, who both emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1972. The shop was a grocery store that was slowly converted to a sandwich shop and both Ildefonso and Lucia worked and lived in the old building. It’s proximity to Georgia Tech in Midtown and reasonable prices for hearty fare made it a classic hangout for students and locals alike.
Nonetheless, in 2009, the Ramirez’s picked-up Kool Korner and moved it to the Publix strip mall on Montgomery Highway in Vestavia Hills. That’s right! It’s not a chain, but the orginal shop with newer digs and the same great sandwiches.
And if you are not into pork–shame on you–but there are roast beef, salads, Cuban tamales, black bean soup, and many other options to choose from. For dessert, try a delicious Guava and Cream Cheese Pastelito, which is like a giant puff pastry filled with thick, sweet guava jam and cream cheese, strangely reminiscent of King Cakes.
Check out the entire menu and get information on hours and location at http://www.koolkornersandwiches.com. You won’t regret it!