The NYC Spanish Shop That Takes Its Tuna Sandwich To The Next Level

Good food (and lots of it) is interwoven into New York City's zeitgeist. From the iconic dollar slice to pastrami sandwiches from some of the best Jewish delis in the United States, the city is as much a culinary smorgasbord as it is a cultural one. Today, we're talking about NYC's Spanish food scene. As of July 15, nearly 2.5 million people out of New York City's 8.8 million residents identified as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish. To be exact, 28.3% of all New Yorkers identify as such. It's no wonder, then, that one of the best tuna sandwiches in New York City comes from a Spanish shop that takes it to the next level.

Introducing: Despaña. This Spanish grocery store and tapas cafe is located at 408 Broome St. in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood. Despaña carries a diverse range of sauces, teas, tinned fish, jarred vegetables and spices, aged cheeses, and more, but, its impressive array of dry goods isn't even the star of the show. At this establishment, the tuna sandwich is king. Despaña itself will be the first to tell you so. The shop's website says, "We are here for one thing and one thing only: the tuna sandwich." 

It continues, stating that to make a successful tuna sammy, "You'll simply want to have a good piece of bread and a few key ingredients to liven up that tuna." But, Despaña's tuna Pescador sandwich is an elevated tuna sandwich that goes beyond just some sourdough and albacore. Here's what makes it special.

Pâté all day

In Despaña's Pescador sandwich, tuna is both the star ingredient and takes a backseat. The tuna is smeared on the bread in the form of pâté, and anchovies serve as the main bite. Per Grub Street, the Pescador also comes with piquillo and piparra peppers, aïoli, and a spicy orange spread, and is served on Balthazar ciabatta. Piquillo peppers (aka "little beak" peppers) are a type of mild chili pepper found in the Navarra region of Northern Spain, says Pepperscale. But, in the United States, they are most commonly found in jars. Piquillo peppers boast a tart, smoky flavor and mild spiciness, falling somewhere between 500 and 1,000 Scoville Heat Units or 40 times less spicy than a jalapeño, for reference. Hungry yet?

Flavorful peppers aren't the only thing that makes this a god-tier sandwich. At Despaña, the quality of the fish is the name of the game. There are many different varieties of tuna fish — 15 in total, according to Tin Can Fish — but Despaña uses "Bonito." Bonito is a predatory, migratory type of tuna fish that can grow up to four feet long and weigh up to 25 pounds, says AZ Animals. In fact, the carnivorous Bonito's diet consists mostly of anchovies, sardines, other smaller fish, and even squid. Pack all of those palette influencers into a single sandwich, and you've got Despaña's fish-on-fish-on-fish Pescador.