After a soft opening run, chef Hector Santiago's El Super Pan is officially open in the Food Hall at Ponce City Marke t, offering sandwiches, salads, snacks and sides all day, and promising a nightly selection of tapas and specials served after 6 p.m., once things settle into a regular routine.
Santiago, who is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, is known for his appearance on “Top Chef” and his long-running Poncey-Highland pan-Latin tapas restaurant, Pura Vida, which spawned Super Pan sandwich shop next door, and a series of El Burro Pollo burrito pop-ups.
After closing Super Pan and Pura Vida in 2012, Santiago took over the kitchen at Abattoir on the Westside, and served as the consulting chef for the fast-casual Latin concept, Big Sky , in Buckhead.
But last weekend, perched on a stool at the chef’s counter at El Super Pan as a big crowd lined up around the order counter, he finally looked at home again.
“This is what we wanted to do over there,” Santiago said, motioning eastward in the direction the original Super Pan. “We sold 125 Cuban sandwiches here the other day. This place is going to be crazy.”
The concept, which Santiago calls “Spanish-Caribbean,” is a partnership with Jason Mann and George Frangos, who co-founded Farm Burger , the fast-casual better burger chain.
The menu features several sandwich favorites from Super Pan, including the Media Dia, Santiago’s take on the classic Cuban Media Noche ($14), made with adobo-roasted pork, clove ham, Swiss cheese, coyote pickles and pineapple habanero mustard on a dark H&F submarine roll.
And there’s the signature Latin-meets-Asian steamed pork belly bun ($5.50) with crispy smoked piloncillo pork belly, sambal, spicy tamarind sauce and cilantro slaw. A tofu version ($4) is folded in a steamed coconut bun with chipotle soy tofu, housemade gochujang, salted cucumbers, pepitas and herbs.
Among new items, look for the pressed Farm Cubano ($9), with adobo-roasted seasonal veggies, mojo pickled veggies, Sweetgrass Dairy Thomasville Tomme, herbs and mustard.
“We went for umami flavors,” Santiago said. “There’s roasted eggplant and pickled mushrooms. The idea was to try to make it taste like a Cubano. It almost tastes like ham. It’s really fun.”
Another new wrinkle can be found in the Cubano Mixto ($12), which features salami in addition to ham and roasted pork on bread imported from La Segunda Central Bakery in Tampa.
“That one was fashioned after the Cuban in Puerto Rico and Tampa,” Santiago said. “I love it with the salami.”
Snacks and sides ($2.50-$6.50) include sautéed olives and onions, roasted sweet plantains, and brown rice and red beans. Yuca al aji amarillo ($4.50) with egg and olive is a Latin take on potato salad.
Pending approval of the liquor license, most of the drink menu is on hold. But down the line, look for specialty cocktails and “sipping spirits” based around the likes of rum, pisco, and mezcal. The beer list will highlight Latin favorites, such as Presidente, Victoria and Negra Modelo, along with local craft beers, and a special non-alcoholic “malta” brewed by Atlanta’s Second Self Beer Co. The wine list will feature bottles and keg wines from Argentina, Chile, and Spain.
Seating around the 800-square-foot stall, is at a communal table and the chef’s counter, as well as in the Ponce City Market Food Hall’s main courtyard.
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