Every town has a celebration of its home-bred dishes. In West Point, Iowa, there's a sweet corn festival, and Hendersonville, North Carolina, marks autumn with its annual apple festival. In Miami, we celebrate that most beloved of snacks — the croqueta.
Burger Beast's Croquetapalooza will return to Magic City Casino this Sunday, October 11, from noon to 3 p.m. Sef Gonzalez, the man behind the Burger Beast blog, is looking forward to his second croqueta feast, with more than a dozen of Miami's best restaurants participating in the fun, including:
Finka Table & Tap
The Fish House
Larios on the Beach
- Latin American Bakery & Cafe
- Latin Cafe 2000
Little Bread Cuban Sandwich Co.
- Munchies Cafe
Each restaurant will either offer its own take on a croqueta or serve a croqueta-inspired dish. What's on the menu? It's a surprise — even to the Burger Beast himself: "No one wants to reveal what they're doing, although Finka is doing a crab croqueta. Oops, I'm not sure I was supposed to say that."
Gonzalez says that although he didn't think he could top his lineup from last year, 2015's Croquetapalooza is looking mighty fine. "I didn't think I could do anything better than last year, but I really think this year is bigger and better. This is a better lineup of restaurants, with many small mom-and-pop places showcasing their food."
Regardless of which dish each restaurant will serve, expect them to pull out all the stops as they compete for the title of Best Croqueta. Last year, Barley (then called Barley & Swine) took the title for its creation, containing jamón serrano, manchego, and guava. The restaurant is back to try to regain its status as reigning champion of the croqueta. Judges tasked with the job of eating and rating the offerings are WPLG Channel 10’s MJ Acosta, Miami Commissioner Willy Gort, and Latin House Grill chef/owner Michell Sanchez.
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Guests will also be treated to a pop-up re-creation of a Downstairs convenience store. There, attendees can "shop" for Boar's Head sandwiches and beverages from 305: Cafecito and Ojala wine. There's no additional charge for these items; they're free with paid admission to Croquetapalooza.
If you have a sweet tooth, look out for treats from Exquisito Fine Chocolates and a special collaboration between Azucar Ice Cream and Night Owl Cookie Co. "It's fantastic," raves Gonzalez, who has tried the sweet sandwich.
Champion eaters can enter a contest in which the winner will eat the most Islas Canarias croquetas in two minutes. The event will be refereed by Fatgirl Hedonist blogger Cari Garcia and last year's croqueta-eating champion, Miami Springs Mayor Zavier Garcia. You can sign up at the event, and if you're squeamish about entering, listen to this: Burger Beast says it's not quite as intense as Nathan's annual hot-dog-eating contest. "This isn't really a gross-out event. Each contestant is given ten croquetas, with the goal of eating the most in two minutes. The mayor won by eating seven last year." Surely Miamians worth their salt can down at least half a dozen croquetas, right?
Tickets cost $35 and include croquetas from all 15 of the competitors, plus desserts, batidos, soft drinks, and 3:05 cafecito and cafe con leche. In addition, admission gets you Brugal Añejo hand-shaken daiquiris, Ojala wine, and Tito's Handmade vodka. Tickets are available at croquetapalooza.com.