There are few restaurants that I enjoy so much that I would be willing to be fleishig for at 11:15 in the morning. Actually, there’s only one. It is my go-to restaurant when I’m in the center of town.
Pepito’s is a small Latin American street food restaurant located in Machane Yehuda. Their focus is on cubanos, or Cuban sandwiches of various styles. And each one is more delicious than the next. They do have an extended Hebrew menu, but I’m still working my way through the English sandwich list. As of this writing, I have one left: La Negra. I’m not counting the vegetarian or the tuna sandwiches, naturally ;-)
The owner made aliyah from Colombia a few years ago, and you can taste the passion he has for his native flavors in his food. While the meats themselves are mostly deli, he’s chosen flavors that work well together. His guacamole and cole slaw are prepared on premises. Whoever his bread supplier is should be commended as well; after searing in the plancha, the bread crust is shatteringly crisp.
Pepito’s space itself is small, but the small tables in the front are more than adequate for lunch with a friend. The Latin music in the background sets the perfect ambiance. Actually, it’s a wonder that there isn’t a line out the door, but I have never been there when they haven’t had at least one more customer, besides me, sit down or take out.
The portions undeniably generous. Lunch for two at Pepito’s will cost from NIS 60 to 80, if you go in for fries and a beer. One sandwich will fill you up, and I don’t recommend you order a side of fries unless you have someone to share it with. The food comes in small tin buckets, which is just this side of kitschy, but practical; it saves space on the small bistro tables, making it a brilliant choice for delivering food.
If you’re not sure what to order, start with La Bomba. It has a little of everything, and it’s only a couple of shekels more than most of the other sandwiches. The truth is, anything you order is going to be good, so don’t worry if you’re going to like it. You will, you have my word.
When writing these reviews, as I’ve probably mentioned, really try to judge based on what the restaurant is trying to be. In Pepito’s case, they hit the mark on everything. It has solid flavors, reasonable pricing, generous portions, and the perfect ambiance for a street food joint.
See you there.