Some may call it an obsession, but I like to think that I have a healthy fascination with la frita cubana, the 1930s Cuban street food dish. They were originally sold from small carts similar in size to the hot dog carts that line the Miami courthouse.
The frita eventually found its way to Miami where it began its slow rise to popularity in the early 1960s. Dagoberto Estevil in his Fritas Domino cart and then later brick and mortar on 1177 SW 8th Street (a location later popularized by El Rey de las Fritas) is considered by many to be the godfather of fritas in Miami.
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So what exactly is a frita? A paprika spiced patty that may be made up of a combination of beef, pork and chorizo in its most popular incarnation or simply put – a Cuban hamburger. The cooking technique involves smashing the spiced up ball of frita and topping it with diced onions and appears have originated in 1921 Wichita, Kansas where White Castle pioneered this cooking method for their burger sliders.
I’m always on the lookout for fritas in Miami so I can promise you that this Top 10 frita list will make your life a whole lot easier. If you’re a frita cubana newbie or an expert looking for a new one to wow you, then this is the list for you.
It is the first day of #nationalburgermonth in honor of that, we are introducing the one and only @burgerbeast #Frita recipe to our menu 100% #beef ground fresh in house, seasoned like chorizo, with julienne potatoes on a #Cuban bun #CubanBurger add our award winning Croquetas and make it a Frita preparada #BurgerBeast #freshfromflagami #notfromsedanos
A post shared by Palomilla Grill (@palomillagrill) on May 1, 2018 at 11:40am PDT
This list is a top 10 but in the interest of full disclosure here is a shameless plug: You will find a really great frita at Palomilla Grill (formerly Trianon restaurant) made with my recipe.
Palomilla Grill, 6890 W Flagler St., Miami
10. Cafe 72
Here’s our “FRITA SIETE DOS”beef chorizo patty, lettuce, tomato, home made Papitas, cilantro aioli, spicy ketchup!!!! It’s your favorite fritas favorite frita guaranteed!!! #foodporn #foodie #instagood #cafe72 #picoftheday #instafood #yum #yummy #bestfood #yasss #miamifood #doral #instafoodie #breakfast #lunch #miamifoodporn #bestfoodmiami
A post shared by Thecafe72 (@thecafe72) on Mar 9, 2018 at 11:30am PST
Once you get past the offensive lettuce and tomato that desecrated the Frita 72 at Cafe 72, you will find a substantial and filling frita made with chorizo and topped with a cilantro aioli and cayenne ketchup that’s great.
Cafe 72, 7201 NW 36th St., Miami
9. Amelia’s 1931
A post shared by Amelia's 1931 (@amelias1931) on Apr 22, 2018 at 1:22pm PDT
There have been a few different fritas on the menu here but while they’ve had some steps in the realm of fusion like the Korean Frita you can also taste the past in there as well if you’re really paying attention.
Amelia’s 1931, 13601 SW 26th St, Miami
A post shared by Ariete (@arietemiami) on May 1, 2018 at 1:32pm PDT
There are three fritas on the menu to appease every type of frita cubana fan. There’s the classic, el Americano with cheese and bacon, and then there’s the Pops Frita with blue cheese and caramelized onions. Go with the latter and enjoy this little frita ditty.
Ariete Miami, 3540 Main Hwy, Coconut Grove
7. Cuban Guys
Tuesdays after 3PM we have a Frita Fiesta & you are invited Los Martes despues de las 4PM tenemos un Party de Fritas y tu estas invitado/a #DalePaCubanGuys 3174 West 76th Street 786 507 4494 ( Hialeah ) 1678 NE Miami Gardens Dr 305 949 6877 (NMB) 10801 Sunset Dr 786 464 0744 ( Kendall ) 1675 West 49th Street 305 200 1055 (Westland Mall) Outside Next to Macys Coming Soon Crosstown Shoppes 3496 Red Road Miramar, FL 33025 #CubanGuys #Cubanlicious #cubanfastfood #CubanFood #ComidaCubana #CubanSandwich #CubanRestaurant #Delicious #Amazing #hialeah #kendall #nmb #fritacubana #frita #foodie #foodporn #querico #breakfast #miamifoodie #miamifoodporn #miamirestaurant
A post shared by Cuban Guys Restaurants (@cubanguys) on Apr 24, 2018 at 12:28pm PDT
What started as a fan’s take on El Mago and El Rey has grown to four (soon to be five) locations all over Miami. The Cuban roll is branded CG and the frita is right on the money. I prefer my Cuban Guys’ frita with cheese but don’t tell anyone. That’s frowned upon by purists.
Cuban Guys, 5979 NW 151st St., Suite #103; Miami Lakes
6. Off The Mile
Our Fritta does it again! It's Fritta Friday and another satisfied customer! @winewithnat #Repost @winewithnat with @repostapp ・・・ By far the best Frita I've ever eaten…don't judge me ♀️ Watch me devour it on Insta Stories. @offthemilegables #FritaFridays – #thewinehangovermademedoit #noregrets #itsacubanthing #workingonmyhips #youhaventliveduntilyouvetriedit #thereisamaduroinside #winewithnat #womenwhowine
A post shared by Off The Mile (@offthemilegables) on Mar 31, 2017 at 1:04pm PDT
Just a few short feet to the left of the door to Vicky Bakery in Coral Gables is Off the Mile with an updated rendition of the frita featuring julienne potatoes that resemble mini french fries and a special sauce on a burger roll. This is where the old and the new frita worlds collide.
Off the Mile, 245 University Dr., Coral Gables
A post shared by Sergio's Restaurant (@sergiosrestaurant) on Nov 24, 2017 at 9:24am PST
I normally skip the regular frita which comes on a potato bun and go straight for the frita sliders which pack a flavor wallop. There’s two to an order and don’t even think about sharing these guys, you’ll regret it later.
4. Fritas Domino
Right off the plane and into a few Fritas with @burgerbeast. Visited #FritasDomino for the first time, the OG Cuban burger counter dating back to 1961 (but moved to current location in 1980s). These are different than El Rey and El Mago and we think they deep fry the patties. Also those potatoes…the finest, juilenned nest of goodness I've ever had on a Frita. #miami #frita #hamburgerhouseparty
A post shared by George Motz (@motzburger) on Mar 9, 2018 at 2:08pm PST
Dagoberto Estevil is no longer associated with Fritas Domino but his recipe lives on at this little spot in West Miami. The one noticeable difference between this frita and the others on this list is the texture. It’s almost as if they were deep fried…hmmm….
Fritas Domino, 936 SW 67th Ave., Miami
3. Morro Castle
A post shared by George Motz (@motzburger) on Feb 26, 2016 at 9:54am PST
This second Morro Castle location (the original spot in Little Havana closed May 2017) still holds its frita traditions close. This also happens to be the spot where I lost my frita virginity and 30 years later I’ve never looked back.
Morro Castle, 1201 W 44th Pl., Hialeah
2. El Mago de las Fritas
A post shared by El mago de las fritas (@elmagodelasfritas) on May 12, 2017 at 8:43am PDT
Ortelio Cardenas learned how to make fritas from his brother-in-law Benito Gonzalez aka El Rey de las Fritas. In 1984 he broke away and opened up El Mago de las Fritas (The Wizard of Fritas) in West Miami where it still stands today. Sometimes, if luck is on your side, you might catch Ortelio at the grill whipping up some magic. Make sure to take them up on the buy ten and get one free frita offer.
El Mago de las Fritas, 5828 SW 8th St., Miami
1. El Rey de las Fritas
A post shared by El Rey de las Fritas (@reydelasfritas) on Jul 8, 2017 at 9:42am PDT
El Rey de las Fritas Benito Gonzalez began his empire in 1976 right off of Coral Way but made his name with their second location in the space where the original Fritas Domino was for over twenty years. Benito may have passed away more than ten years ago but he left the business in the capable hands of his daughter Mercy and her husband Gino, who have kept up his high standards for food and customer service. They are five-time winners of my Frita Showdown competition. That says it all.