El Rey Takes the Crown at Magic City Casino Frita Showdown

The winning frita.
The winning frita.
All photos by Zachary Fagenson

In a shock to attendees, frita fanatics and the Miami Twitterverse El Rey de las Fritas' Cuban hamburger bested the creation of Ortelio Cárdenas, El Mago de las Fritas, at Burger Beast's first ever Frita Showdown at Magic City Casino Wednesday night.

See also: Miami's Top Ten Fritas Cubanas

Judges Alberto Cabrera and Giorgio Rapicavoli hard at work.
Judges Alberto Cabrera and Giorgio Rapicavoli hard at work.

El Mago's and El Rey's Frita Cubanas went head to head with those from Cuban Guys, Luis Galindo's Latin American and Sergio's and were judged by Eating House's Giorgio Rapicavoli, Bread + Butter's Alberto Cabrera, Ingrid Hoffman and Randy Fisher, who helps organize the South Beach and New York City Wine and Food Festival's burger bashes.

See also:

Miami's Fritas: El Mago and Beyond

El Mago's frita.
El Mago's frita.

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"I'm looking for a well-seasoned patty, crispy potatoes, bread that's crispy outside but soft in the middle," said Cabrera. "and it needs to be seasoned on the griddle."

"My bread is cold," Hoffman said biting into one of the five burgers during the blind tasting.

As with Cuban sandwiches, pan con lechon or pan tostada well-toasted bread was key and difficult for many to pull off.

In the spirit of full transparency I'll admit I enjoyed Sergio's frita (on a soft bun) and Latin American's version (with American cheese), and am clearly a gringo wholly unfit for the responsibility of frita judging.


Latin American's frita.
Latin American's frita.

Yet there was much more than fritas to gush over at this one. Thankfully the $40-per-person fiesta was held inside, a godsend for mid-August burger eating, with plenty of places to sit and great view of the casino's dog track. All of the restaurants besides Sergio's offered up full size fritas. No sliders here, people. Magic City Casino staff did a crack job of clearing tables, dishing out ice water to those suffering the meat sweats and circulating frosty glasses of Hatuey beer.

Sergio's soft-bunned frita.
Sergio's soft-bunned frita.

Last the Frita Showdown might have been the only food Miami food fete capable of bring together Old Cubans -- tight-faced women wearing chunky gold jewelry and mustached men in Guayaberas -- and the tattooed, skinny pant-wearing Miami gastrophiles.


Cuban Guys' frita.
Cuban Guys' frita.

Nevertheless everyone played nice. Lines were short, and there were plenty of Isla de Canarias' croquetas de jamon and La Camaronera's Bollitos de Carita, the blackeyed pea fritters the Garcia family has been slinging ever since they opened up their first fish stand in Cuba, to tide over those with big appetites and little patience.

Little cups of Azucar's Mantedo ice cream, a Cuban vanilla made with eggs and cinnamon, was a nice bookend for the stomach-stretching experience.

The team from El Rey de las Fritas taking the win.
The team from El Rey de las Fritas taking the win.

So congrats to El Rey and condolences to El Mago. Thankfully you still have the option to decide on your favorite frita. All you need is an appetite, a little bit of Spanish to order (Spanglish works too) and some cash.

For more follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird.

Follow Short Order on Facebook, on Twitter @Short_Order, and Instagram @ShortOrder.

Use Current Location

Related Locations

Magic City Casino
El Rey De Las Fritas

1821 SW 8th St.
Miami, FL 33135-3417


El Mago de las Fritas

5828 SW 8th St.
Miami, FL 33144



Cuban Guys

3174 W. 76th St.
Hialeah, FL 33018




3252 SW 22nd St.
Coral Gables, FL 33145



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