La Frita Cubana aka Cuban Burger

La Frita Cubana aka Cuban Burger & its History

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I’m a giant fan of La Frita Cubana (pronounced free-tah), known to some as the Cuban Burger. I was introduced to la Frita by my dad at Morro Castle in Hialeah. He was relieved to find out that I was in love.

My lifelong passion for the Frita Cubana and its history never subsides. So, I take it very seriously when someone slaps the moniker of Frita Cubana on their burger as a marketing gimmick.

A Frita Cubana is a Frita Cubana, accept no imitations.

What is a Frita Cubana?

La Frita Cubana from El Rey de las Fritas
La Frita Cubana Original con Queso from El Rey de las Fritas

La Frita Cubana is a mix of ground beef (sometimes chorizo or pork is added), spices, julienne cut potatoes or potato sticks, diced raw onions, and ketchup (rumored to be tomato paste, not ketchup in Cuba). Some variations include cooked onions or no tomato-based products at all.

In Cuba, the julienne potatoes could be substituted sometimes by some other root vegetable (cassava or malanga, for example) due to the scarcity of foods. I’ve eaten Fritas with some alternative veggies, and potato is the way to go.

The Friteros (fellas who made Fritas) cut up loaves of bread to fit the well-seasoned mini smashed patties. Once in the U.S., they first appeared in a burger bun. Later on, Cuban rolls were introduced in Miami and are now the most common vessel for the Frita.

One last thing, adding cheese to your Frita is frowned upon by purists but it is delicious.

Frita Cubana History

Puesto de Frita aka Frita Cart by PONG
Puesto de Frita aka Frita Cart a illustration by PONG

The Frita Cubana dates back to 1920s Cuba. Back then, it was street food. Propane-fueled stoves in hot dog-type carts lined the street selling Fritas to customers. The Fritas were only about 2 ounces and were the perfect afternoon snack.

Dagoberto Estevil brought the Frita to Miami in 1961 when he opened up in Little Havana (8th Street & 12th). He named his restaurant Fritas Domino. Unfortunately, the original location is no longer open.

However, in the late 1980s, Estevil’s children opened a Fritas Domino on 8th Street and 67th Avenue in Miami.

You can primarily find Fritas in Cuban cafeterias in South Florida. Now, the good ones are harder to find.

El Rey De Las Fritas is a mini-chain of Frita restaurants in South Florida. Their best-known location in Little Havana burned down ten years but has since been re-opened in a different spot.

The restaurants known to have the “Best” Frita in Miami are Cuban Guys, El Mago De Las Fritas, El Rey De Las Fritas & Morro Castle.

R.I.P. to Frita Man, Frita Queen, Fritas Domino and the original Morro Castle in Little Havana.

My book All About the Burger has a much more extensive history of the Frita Cubana.

Frita Cubana Crawl with George Motz

A few weeks after introducing George Motz to his first Frita Cubana, we went full Frita Crawl to El Rey de las Frita, Morro Castle, and El Mago de las Fritas.

The Frita Showdown

Frita Showdown
Frita Showdown

The Frita Showdown was an annual event I held at Magic City Casino to celebrate the Frita Cubana from 2013-2017.

Burger Beast’s inaugural Frita Showdown happened on Wednesday, August 14th, 2013. El Rey de las Fritas was crowned the winner by a panel of judges.

Below are the Frita Showdown winners from 2013-2017:

Frita Showdown 2013 Judge’s WinnerEl Rey De Las Fritas
Frita Showdown 2014 Judge’s WinnerEl Mago De Las Fritas
Frita Showdown 2014 People’s WinnerEl Rey De Las Fritas
Frita Showdown 2015 Judge’s WinnerEl Rey De Las Fritas
Frita Showdown 2016 People’s WinnerEl Rey De Las Fritas
Frita Showdown 2017 People’s WinnerEl Rey De Las Fritas

Burger Beast’s Frita Recipe

Hijo de la Gran Frita Cubana
Hijo de la Gran Frita Cubana

Want to make a Frita Cubana? Go and check out Burger Beast’s Hijo de la Gran Frita Recipe!

Best Frita Cubanas

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