The Ten Best Fritas Cubanas in Miami

A taste of the Magic City comes alive in a tall, refreshing mojito, but another Cuban import packs the same punch. The kind that transports the rich history, beloved memories, and one-of-a-kind sazón of Havana to the 305 — except this one has far more sustenance. Meet the frita cubana.

Despite its popularity, not all fritas cubanas are created equal. For those who aren’t familiar with Miami’s most iconic dish, there are hallmarks of a fine frita. A Cuban roll with a crisp crust and moist interior sets the foundation. Some substitute regular hamburger buns to hold its contents: a juicy ground-beef patty seasoned so well with paprika, cumin, and pepper that it makes an American burger look #basic. Top the patty with chopped white onions and a tall pile of julienned fried potatoes.

Simply put, it’s a burger con un twist. Many cooks have replicated the frita as if it were served straight from the street corners of Cuba, while others have tried and failed at the frita formula. We saved you from wandering around the streets of Calle Ocho, Hialeah, and West Miami. Below you’ll find greasy classics from the city’s most legendary dining institutions, along with savory reinvented recipes using chorizo or gussied-up creations with eggs and plantains. And the best part: They’re all cheap.

So get to know the ten best fritas cubanas in Miami. Then go eat them.
10. El Palacio de los Jugos 
If there’s one song Miamians know, it’s Will Smith’s obnoxious anthem “Welcome to Miami.” (If you guessed Pitbull’s “Culo,” your mind was going in the right direction.) Although the “Welcome to Miami” music video showcases Ocean Drive, South Beach waters, and other touristy hot spots, El Palacio de los Jugos is the real Miami and has been that way since opening in 1977. Under the dark-green canopy on Flagler Street, you’ll find loyal patrons sipping El Palacio’s famed juices along with a frita ($3), a quintessential pairing for any Miami experience.
9. Fritas Domino La Original
Just because you’re going classic doesn’t mean quality is sacrificed, and Fritas Domino is as classic as it gets; it’s the original. We can thank its founding family for introducing the frita cubana to Miami in 1961 with its original establishment in Little Havana. Despite the change in venues — the current location is in West Miami (936 SW 67th Ave.) — the three-item menu, including the frita recipe, has remained the same. For $4, expect a sweet curried-beef patty sharing real estate with a mountain of shoestring potatoes and a layer of ketchup on a regular hamburger bun, creating an easy grab-and-go lunch or dinner snack filled with a history as rich as its flavor. 
8. La Palma
A frita is only as good as the bread that holds it. That’s why the guys at La Palma dish out Cuban rolls exactly how they should be, with fluffy interiors supported by crisp crusts. This serves as a base for one scrumptious frita — a behemoth of overflowing shoestring potatoes atop a meat patty slathered in spicy goodness. Get it con queso for $4.75, or leave it as is for $4.25. Order some papas fritas ($2.75) on the side and wash it down with a glass of guarapo ($3.50), AKA sugar cane juice. But a meal at La Palma wouldn't be complete without an order of “Miami’s Most Famous” churros ($2.99). Calorie counting is not advised.
7. Polo Norte
With Polo Norte locations in Hialeah, Kendall, Palm Springs, and Sweetwater, the Busquet family has for years spoiled Miami-Dade County with its genuine hospitality and Cuban cuisine. Although this local chain is known for Cuban pizzas and homemade ice cream, the frita cubana, priced at $3.25, has earned nods of approval as well. Julienned fries, onions, and ketchup sit on a grilled, specially seasoned burger. It may be a mouthful, but it’s a happy one. And if that doesn’t make you happy, a scoop (or five) of ice cream will do the trick.
6. Sergio’s
Like Polo Norte, Sergio’s is also sprinkled across the Magic City and has even crossed into Broward County. No matter the location, the chefs at Sergio’s works wonders on a bun. The burgers are chock full of spices that give that extra kick you need while effortlessly blending the tastes and textures of potato sticks, onions, and ketchup. Not that hungry? No problem. Mini frita sliders ($6.50) are available for those with a lighter appetite. But one whiff of El Frita ($4.75) will make you reconsider your hunger level.
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Maureen Aimee Mariano is a freelance food writer for Miami New Times. She earned a bachelor of science in journalism from the University of Florida before making her way back to the 305, the city that first fueled her insatiable appetite.