A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 15, 2008
Elena Ruz Sandwich (Elena Ruiz Sandwich; Elena Ruth; Marie Elena; Cuban Turkey Sandwich)

The Elena Ruz sandwich (sometimes called “Elena Ruiz” or “Elena Ruth” or “Marie Elena” or simply “Cuban turkey sandwich”) usually consists of turkey, cream cheese, and strawberry jam. The sandwich is named after Cuban socialite Elena Ruth, who frequented the Havana’s El Carmelo restaurant in the 1930s.
The Elena Ruz can be found in many Cuban restaurants in Florida.
Elena Ruz
by atmcsld Fri Apr 15 2005 at 0:33:21
The Elena Ruz, also sometimes known as a Cuban Turkey Sandwich (not to be confused with the equally tasty Cuban Sandwich), is an exquisitely scrumptious sandwich, though it might not seem so at first. It is made thusly:
Simply take:
2 Slices of toast
Cream Cheese, and
Strawberry preserves
and put them all together. It’s that easy. At the same time, almost everyone I’ve ever described this sandwich to has had a similar reaction: “Yuck!” But the truth is, this sandwich is actually quite good. The reasons seem to be two-fold: First, the cream cheese does something that really brings the flavors of the turkey and the strawberry preserves together in a really good way. The preserves and the turkey are what really seem to be the mutually exclusive elements of this sandwich, and might very well taste bad together without the cheese.
But also, there seems to be some overlooked quality that comes with mixing meat or other such savory foods with sweet stuff like fruit. Pineapple pizza is another good example of this. Your mileage may vary of course, and I’m far from qualified to talk about the relative merits of flavors and their combinations, but I know what I like, and this sandwich has yet to do me wrong.
The history of this sandwich, much like the sandwich itself, is short and to the point. It seems the sandwich is named after a young Cuban debutante who frequented an all-night diner in Havana, and would always ask the chef to prepare this sandwich for her. Thus the sandwich was born and named after her. As for what prompted her to create such an odd meal, sources seem to be inconclusive on this point…
Though the ingredients I posted above seem to be the normal combination, there are a lot of variations used when making this sandwich. Some of the more common I’ve heard including substituting the strawberry preserves with cranberries (which could be great for thanksgiving leftovers) or marmalade, or anything sweet tasting like that. Many recipes also call for the crusts to be cut off of the sides of the sandwich.
Havana Cafe (Arlington, VA; Washington, DC)
Elena Ruz
Cuban sandwich consisting of roast turkey, cream cheese and strawberry preserves, served on white bread $4.75
Taste of Cuba
Cuban Turkey Sandwich Recipe
courtesy of Cocina Cubana club/ Sonia Martinez/ Pascual Perez
This is a strange combination, but believe me, it is very good! The story goes that Elena Ruz, a society young debutante for which the sandwich is named, would stop at this little all-night restaurant in Havana after leaving a dance with her group of friends. She asked the waiter if they would fix her this sandwich to her orders…..after checking with the kitchen, the waiter said ok. From then on, she would always ask for her Elena Ruz Sandwich and that is how it is now known.
2 slices of toasted sandwich bread
Cream Cheese
Strawberry Jam or preserves
Fresh Roasted Turkey slices (or leftover turkey will do)
Spread 1 slice of toasted white bread generously with the cream cheese Spread the other slice with the strawberry preserves. Place the turkey slices in the middle, close and enjoy!
Recipe Hound
Cuban Turkey Sandwich (Elena Ruz)
2 slices white bread, toasted and crusts removed
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1 tablespoon strawberry preserves
4 ounces sliced cooked fresh turkey  
Spread 1 slice of toasted bread with the cream cheese and the other slice with the strawberry preserves, place the turkey on one slice, and close with the other to make a sandwich.
Cyber Kitchen
Elena Ruz Sandwich
posted by Marlen 03-18-101 9:50 PM
Elena Ruz Sandwich
It is a Cuban concoction named after a lady who frequented a famous restaurant in Cuba and it was named after her. She still lives in Miami, where this sandwich is served all over the place.
8 slices white bread (restaurants serve it on Cuban bread)
1 pkg (3oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 lb sliced cooked turkey breast
6 tbsp. strawberry jam or preserves
Spread 4 slices bread with cream cheese (don’t be shy!). Top with turkey. Spread remaining bread with jam or preserves and place, jam side down, over turkey.
Place on hot ungreased griddle or skillet and grill until golden brown on both sides, pressing down with pancake turner on each side. Makes 4 Sandwiches
Note from Marlen: You can also just toast the bread and just spread the cream cheese on one slice, the strawberry preserves on the other, and pile the turkey in the middle.
BakeSpace’s Global Cookbook
Elena Ruth - Cuban Turkey Sandwich
added 07/25/07
Recipe Directions & History
2 slices of toasted sandwich bun (We used a bread that taste like Challah bread but its kinda sweet.)
Cream Cheese
Strawberry Jam or preserves
Fresh Roasted Turkey slices (or leftover turkey will do)
Spread 1 slice of toasted white bread generously with the cream cheese. Spread the other slice with the strawberry preserves. Place the turkey slices in the middle, close and enjoy!
Google Books
The Standard Guide to Mexico and the Caribbean
by Lawrence Martin and Sylvia Pass Martin
New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls
Pg. 382:
Among the sandwiches we ran across an oddity— Elena Ruz, which turned out to be turkey, cream cheese, and strawberry marmalade, $1.10.
1 April 1977, Miami (FL) News, “Herb Rau’s $5 Eat-Out,” Upbeat sec., pg. 8, col. 3:
Including 29 sandwiches, everything from a Media Noche to an Elena Ruz.
(The Trianon, 6890 West Flagler.—ed.)
25 November 1977, The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, MI), pg. 17, col. 1:
Sandwich Favorite of Harry (Sugar Mill Restaurant) Crossfield: “The Elena Ruz”—sliced white meat of turkey topped with cream cheese and strawberry preserves on white roll, grilled till hot.
30 November 1985, Miami (FL) Herald, pg. 1D:
The Elena Ruz: Combine your turkey with cream cheese and strawberry jam for a Cuban culinary classic.
27 January 1993, Washington (DC) Post:
One of the most curious Cuban sandwiches is the Elena Ruz, made with sliced turkey, strawberry jam and cream cheese on a sweet roll.
Google Books
What’s for Breakfast?
Light & Easy Morning Meals for Busy People
by Donna S. Roy and Kathleen Flores
Mankato, MN: Appletree Press, Inc.
Pg. 78:
“The Marie Elena Sandwich”: (pro-carbing Cuban flair: Take a 6-inch long piece of French bread sliced lengthwise. On half, spread 1 tablespoon fat-free cream cheese, 2 teaspoons sugar-free strawberry preserves, and 1 ounce of lean ham or skinless chicken breast. Place other bread half on top and serve. Accompany with 1 sliced mango and skim milk.
21 July 1994, Washington (DC) Times:
The Elena Ruz, named after the elderly lady who now lives in Miami and originated the cream cheese, strawberry jam and sliced turkey sandwich at El Carmelo restaurant in Havana.
Chowhound - Elena Ruiz Sandwich
While Elena Ruiz is very popular name, getting 100s of hits in google; the name of the sandwich is is 3 or 4 to 1 in favor of Ruz:
The link you list is the only one that comes up with “Elena Ruiz” and “sandwich” as the search terms. Not that it is a big deal, but just don’t want to have obfuscation slipping in. Since the name Ruiz is so very much more common it is understandable the impulse to change from Ruz. On the other hand, Ruz being relatively uncommon, it is most likely that was the person’s name. Otherwise why spell it that way. Too bad all web sources the search engines fine are at best secondary or tertiary sources so we cannot see the whole enchilada.
wrayb Feb 15, 2002 03:50AM
Google Books
Three Guys from Miami Cook Cuban
by Glenn M. Lindgren, Raul Musibay, and Jorge Castillo
Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith
Pg. 84:
Glenn: This sandwich was named for Elena Ruz, a young lady who frequented the El Carmelo restaurant in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana in the 1930s.
Jorge: Elena had a thing for pavo, or turkey, and she was very particular about the way the chef prepared her sandwich.
Raul: The bread had to be American-style white, with the crust removed. It had to be lightly toasted and NOT flattened in the plancha like a Cuban sandwich. The cream cheese had to be softened and spread evenly without tearing the bread.
Elena Ruz
Cuban Turkey Sandwich
Makes 4 sandwiches
8 slices white bread, crusts removed
4 to 5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons strawberry jam or guava jelly
Pinch of salt to taste (...)

Posted by Barry Popik
Florida (Sunshine State Dictionary) • Friday, February 15, 2008 • Permalink

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