For a good year we'd been eyeing a sign at the 1900 block of Taft that read “TASTE THE WORLD: Juan Mon’s International Sandwiches.” The building, which was once a gas station, looked abandoned, leading us to think that Juan had likely packed up his French baguettes, Italian mortadella, and Mexican oaxaca and headed for greener pastures.
As it turns out Juan (a recent UT-Austin grad) was busy traveling the globe, sampling its sandwiches and readying the financing to open up his international house of sandwiches. Walking into Juan Mon’s is like walking into an indoor Marley Fest (sans pot cloud and retarded hippies) with its plastic palm trees and brightly painted walls. The jammin' reggae tunes that greet you both in-restaurant and on the Juan Mon website are enough to transport you back to your smoke-filled college dorm room. Pink Floyd poster and lava lamp sold separately.
[Pictured above: The Venice] Juan Mon’s menu is an assortment of different sandwiches named after the cities that inspired them. Our favorite sandwiches are the Venice and Berlin. The Venice is the type of sandwich one comes up with after spending a good, hard weekend at Marley Fest. It's stoner food done right. And who knew that spaghetti, salami, sour cream, grilled onions and provolone on a toasty baguette could taste so good to a sober law student? The spaghetti has a perfect al dente bite, supplying a nice change of texture from the crispy baguette and delicate cheese and salami. The tartness of the sour cream compliments the sweetness of the grilled onions, and we've come to the conclusion that everything tastes better with spaghetti on it. Really one can never go wrong with a carb-on-carb party. In our humble opinion.
[Pictured above: The Berlin] The Berlin is the sort of sandwich you get at a bratwurst stand in Germany. This sandwich would ordinarily be preceded by a long night of getting hammered on Spaten Optimators and Einbecker Ur-Bocks…real beers. Unlike the Venice, the Berlin is simple and traditional: German sausage, provolone, grilled onions, and Dijon mustard on a toasted wheat bun. But it’s that simplicity that keeps you coming back for more. Afterall some things are just meant for each other: when you think of German food, you don’t think of Bœuf de Hohenlohe and gutbürgerlich (whatever the fuck those are), you think of beer and a brat inside a bun lathered in mustard. And that’s the way it should be.
Ultimately, Juan Mon’s is a real Houston find. From the crazy stoner sandwich to the staple of late night German dining you can get it all. It is like tasting the world without having to leave the loop.