Before we get into the food at La Palma, let’s talk a little bit about the history of the building that houses it.
La Palma History
In 1953, Burger King or Insta Burger King, its original name, would open its first restaurant in Jacksonville. The new Insta Burger King concept made its way to Miami via two franchisees in 1954. The second Miami location would be at 6091 SW 8th Street. By December 1974, the lease on the property would be up. The building sat empty for a few years.
The location would reopen as Polaris, a Cuban diner-type eatery. Polaris was part of Felipe Valls’ growing empire of Cuban Miami restaurants, which included Casa Juancho, El Cid, La Carreta, Trianon, and Versailles. There are still some folks who believe that Polaris’s name was Aqui Me Quedo because of the mural on one of the walls. The name would change to La Palma as it is still known, but it was open 24 hours a day even back then.
La Palma Memories
My oldest memories from La Palma are family eating fritas, croquetas, churros (fried dough topped with sugar), and hot chocolate. La Palma is known for its croquetas and Frita Cubana (Cuban-style burgers), aka fritas. As far as the croquetas go, they’re identical to the famous ham croquetas from Versailles. If you love those, you will love these. Never tried Versailles’ croquetas? Well, what are you waiting for?
When I first ate a frita as a kid at the Morro Castle in Hialeah, I was a little apprehensive. I had never seen or heard of a frita before. My father told me that it’s The Cuban Hamburger, but it certainly didn’t look like any hamburger I’d seen before. I lifted the top bun to see what was going on.
I see these little tiny potatoes (some places serve them with canned potato sticks, unfortunately), onions (generally served raw), ketchup (sometimes), and cheese (if you request it but not necessary). When I took a look at the frita patty itself, I didn’t know what to think.
My dad took a bite of his and said how good it was. I felt like I would be letting him down if I didn’t at least try it. So I did and got hooked…that brings us back to speed at La Palma.
I’m a lifelong fan of La Palma’s frita, although it is more of an actual patty and not the smashed beef on the griddle I’m accustomed to. They also make their julienne potatoes, which is always a good thing.
And the best thing about La Palma? Their walk-up window and outdoor seating area are open 24 hours a day.