First thing is first, Cerro Negro (9613 W Flagler Street, Miami) is a Nicaraguan restaurant not a Fritanga. Suppose you’re not even sure what that means (I didn’t before I started dating Marcela, who is Nicaraguan); even better.
The city of Sweetwater (which is near Cerro Negro) is chock full of Nicaraguan businesses, and Fritangas seem to make up a large portion of them. Fritangas is the quick service version of a Nicaraguan restaurant. The greatest hits of Nicaraguan food can be found ready to go with a couple of specials daily.
Some of them also have seating, but it’s typically minimal. You can find Fritangas in Davie, Hialeah, Kendall, Miami Gardens, and even Pembroke Pines.
Cerro Negro restaurant (named after the volcano in Nicaragua) is situated right where La Hormiga de Oro (another Nica resto) once was, in the Fontainebleau part of Miami on the same corner of 97th Avenue and Flagler.
My parents turned me onto this place, but not without some trepidation on my part. I love them both, but I question some restaurants they love.
So much so that they spoke so highly of Cerro Negro that I was sure I wasn’t going to like it. It turns out I was very wrong.
In keeping with what I just told you, I ordered the sangria against their wishes. They didn’t care for the heavy cinnamon flavor, but I did. I wasn’t expecting it to be that potent, and it was a nice change from the regular run-of-the-mill Sangria you find everywhere.
If you’re keeping score at home, I didn’t tie the cherry’s stem into a knot. It’s not that I can’t, but there’s a time and place for everything. Plus, I don’t think my parents would have been that impressed.
The taquitos are shredded beef topped with the Nicaraguan slaw and crema (a sour cream variation). We also had the queso frito (fried cheese) and tostones (flattened & fried plantains) to help us prepare for the meal.
Don’t forget to ask for a side of their jalapeño crema to spice things up your life.
What makes Nicaraguan-style carne asada so good is the marinade. When cooked properly, the pieces of beef are so tender you could pick it up, forgo silverware and eat the steak with your hand. I’ve seen this firsthand.
Cerro Negro’s carne asada is excellent, one of the best I’ve had. Next, I ate some of their flavorful gallo pinto. The tajadas (fried sweet plantain chips, sliced longwise) are always a great side, but my favorite is the queso frito.
I find myself at times obsessing over this pan-fried block of white cheese. The saltiness of the cheese can be off-putting to some folks, but it’s what makes it stand out amongst what some try to pass off as “queso frito.” There is nothing like it.
Cerro Negro restaurant opens at 7 am for breakfast, but I’ve never made it, and I probably won’t unless there’s carne asada and queso frito on the morning menu.