Twists on tradition: A garlicky Cuban at Michelle Faedo's and a water-based ice cream at La Unica Michoacana offer varying rewards

When CL moved its offices back to Ybor last year, we asked a whole host of locals for their favorite spots in the area. One name that kept popping up was Michelle Faedo's, mostly because of its popular Cuban sandwich. Several people told us it's their favorite example of this pressed piece of Ybor's culinary heritage, even though the restaurant's location a dozen blocks north of I-275 puts it well out of Ybor's otherwise walkable dining district. They were willing to drive just for a taste of this semi-legendary sandwich.

It's a good sandwich, to be sure. But calling it the best Cuban is a stretch, for a variety of reasons.

The first will hit you in the face the instant you step into the humble interior of Michelle Faedo's: garlic, and lots of it. The heady and pungent aroma of the stuff permeates the air here, sweet and earthy — a familiar smell at a beans and rice joint, perhaps, but not at a place that specializes in sandwiches and devil crab. According to owner Robert Faedo, he and wife Michelle started smearing an herb and garlic paste on the outside of their pressed sandwiches over a decade ago, to help them stand out from the multitudes of Cubans ubiquitous in the area.