In a calendar filled with expensive festivals and events, Burger Beast's Frita Showdown might be one of the best values on the Miami foodie circuit.
The showdown — set for 7 p.m. today at Magic City Casino — is in its third year and features a battle among seven of South Florida's best fritas. Guests are invited to try all of them and then vote. To wash them down, there are Botran rum drinks, Jupiña, and other beverages, along with desserts such as Abuela's arroz con leche from Palomilla Grill.
Says Burger Beast blogger Sef Gonzalez: "I think $25 is fair when you're getting fritas, pastelitos, cafecitos, and Botran cocktails. I don't make as much money on these events as I probably could because I really want to keep them for the people."
The sandwich historian says there are two key elements to a good frita cubana: "The meat has to be seasoned correctly, and there has to be a crunch to the sandwich." Gonzalez explains that the meat is usually a blend of ground beef with chorizo or pork added, plus seasonings that almost always include paprika. For crunch, fried julienne-cut potatoes or potato sticks are used. Though you would assume a Cuban roll would be essential for a proper frita, you'd be wrong. "The frita came from Cuba as a street food to Miami. When it was introduced to Miami in 1961, people were using hamburger buns, as evidenced by Morro Castle. At the time, there were no Cuban rolls. Even in Cuba, the sandwiches were made on a slice of Cuban bread, not a specifically made roll."
Yes — Josh's Deli. Gonzalez explains he tapped deli owner Josh Marcus for his pastrami frita. "I thought it was so great that he had to enter the Frita Showdown." Marcus is upping his game by entering a frita lengua in the competition.
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Other interesting entries include Mago de las Fritas' frita confundida (confused frita, topped with Cuban-style pulled pork, sangria-cured ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, papitas, and mustard on a medianoche garlic-buttered bun; El Rey de las Fritas' pork frita; a "24k" frita from Pincho Factory; and a frita with roasted red pepper sauce from Bongos.
Gonzalez says the evening promises to be chill — filled with good food and good vibes. "The events are 21 and over, they're laid-back, and it's cool to be able to have something fun to do in the middle of the week." Tickets for tonight's event can be purchased at fritashowdown,com, and Gonzalez expects a sold-out crowd.
This isn't the only event on Burger Beast's dance card. The blogger is planning his upcoming El Main Evento, a Mexican-themed party complete with luchadores, mariachis, and a burrito-eating contest, September 9 at Magic City Casino, followed by Croquetapalooza October 11.