If my foodie gauge is correct, Super Pan, a Latin sandwich shop from Hector Santiago, is about to be the latest restaurant to permeate Atlanta’s food chatter. How long this Pura Vida spin-off manages to last in that conversation will depend entirely on their ability to deliver good, consistent food. Of course, Santiago’s notability due to his time on Top Chef will help with the buzz.
As you might remember from Monday’s post, I first visited the subterranean sandwich purveyor last week during their first few days of business. However, I grubbed sans camera, so a return trip was necessary before I dropped this post on y’all. Three sandwiches in, I’d say there is some real potential.
Nestled in Poncey-Highland, Super Pan sits directly underneath the aforementioned Pura Vida. It’s a small space, but the demonstrative sign makes it easy to find the door (it’s on Blue Ridge just fyi). As it sits now, the restaurant is open every Tuesday thru Friday from 11:30am to 2pm, just long enough to capture the lunch and munch crowd.
There isn’t much to the decor as the space is intimately lit and full of chocolate/brown colorings and green walls that complement the “underground” food being served. To order, you immediately turn to the left, hop up a half-stairwell, and walk up to the sandwich counter/prep-table.
A kindly woman anxiously awaits you while Santiago himself stands just off to the side, gregariously constructing his treats. I’m not sure how long Santiago will remain in charge of the food prep, but as it stands – he’s been slinging meat during both of my trips.
The menu, which also doubles as the restaurants website, is simple, creative, and full of locally grown and raised goodies. Seven mainstays (and the occasional special) are all the choices you’ll get, which is just fine by me. The menu is culturally varied, yet strung together by distinct Super Pan Latin love.
This much effort has resulted in a gourmet ambiance at Super Pan. Think of it as Lotta Frutta meets Star Provisions. In any event, after muddling through the menu during my first trip, I was ready to lock and load during my return. I pumped out my order (pork belly bun for $10), grabbed my cup, and returned to the dungeon of fun for my mini-feast.
First time through, I went for the coca de jamón y queso. Served on a Spanish foccacia, the Spanish ham sat in the midst of manchego cheese, date maroona almond butter, piquillo pepper agrildulce, and some arugula. It’s not huge, but the high price is off-set by the quality of the goods. It was a top notch serving. The underlying salt of the jamón serrano met its match in a beautiful meddling of subtle and indulgent sweetness. While the focaccia was a little to crumbly for my take, I’m not sure that was a mistake. As chance would have it, when I sat down this past visit, the wisely Sean was already in place and mowing down one of these. He’s got a full recap of it over on Yelp.
Oh yeah, I also had a Medio Dia, but off site consumption requires me to withhold judgment until later. [OFF THE RECORD: It’s pretty tasty].
Anywho (yes – i’ve added that word to my personal dictionary), I settled in with my table-side delivered pork belly buns ($10), eyed Sean’s Mexican coke, briefly contemplated adding one to my order, and then came to my senses and dove in. Everything about these two little pillowy buns of Changian inspiration (but infused with Coconut) had all the right ideas but just a slight misfire on the delivery.
The buns themselves are a bit denser than Chang’s recipe dictates, but that actually works very well here. The added substance really makes me want to build a big white bun of doom … throw the pillows off my bed and settle in for a good night sleep. Mmmm … food pillow!
These two buns are filled with smoked pilon sugar berkshire pork belly, shaved cabbage, cilantro, tamarind sauce and aji coban sambal (chili sauce). Bites were like a reverse engineered taste test. The flavors swirled perfectly yet careful attention elicited individual flavors. Texturally ideal, the disappointment was two fold. First, the sweetness was a bit overpower. It’s not surprising given the ingredient lineup, but after playing with a few other sandwiches on the menu … I’d like to see a little more love given to the salt family. However, the sugars were a minor hiccup relative to the greasiness. The pork was just oozing fat, and while one might say … but of course … it’s pork belly, I still felt “ughghghg” after snarfing them down. Witness the hands:
Look, I love indulgence just as much as the next girl (yes – i know i’m a dude), but it’s all about timing. You know you’re getting good quality, so I feel a little bummed that the sandwich was so slimy. However, it’s good. Don’t mistake a single execution flaw for a dish’s failure.
As they were previously unknown until Monday, getting in and out was easy. I don’t suspect that’ll last. So show up, ascend the stairs to order and race back down to squeeze in next to your newest single serving friend (yes – share the tables people). Oh, and don’t forget the Mexican coke!
Three sandwiches in, it appears that Santiago might have finally captured his voice in food form. I’m looking forward to playing around with these intricate little sandwiches that really hit home … now all that’s left is for Hector to do this time and time again (after fixing the problems of course).
As I leave you with a list of all the good folks who take time to stock Super Pan’s shelves, a special thanks to Sir Todd for harassing me about my poor neighborhood grammar.
Super Pan’s Farm Suppliers
- Ashland Farms in Covington, GA
- Farmer Jeff’s Produce in Orchard Hills, GA
- Bramlett Trout Farms in Suches, GA
- Springer Mountain Farms in Mt. Aire, GA
- Gum Creek Farms in Roopeville, GA
- Painted Hills Farm in Fossile, OR
- Meyers Natural Beef in Loveland, CO