El Mago de las Fritas | Cuban Burgers & Fruit Juice in Miami

Review by: Michael Stern

Short-Order Magic

A lot of places in Miami claim to serve the best frita (aka Cuban hamburger) in town. One small chain enjoyed a moment of glory on a famous-chef TV show. After a day of sampling, I cast my vote for El Mago de las Fritas. Mago means magician, for whom you have a front row seat if you grab a stool at the counter. From here, observe the short-order chef as he grills and assembles his masterpieces. If you are looking for Cuban burgers & fruit juice in Miami, El Mago is a must.

What Exactly is a Frita?

Like a regular hamburger, Cuban burgers are made of ground beef. Big difference, though: Often, the beef is supplemented by chorizo. I assumed this one did include chorizo because the flavor is so radical. But chef disabused me of that notion. Whatever its ingredients, bright seasonings and rugged texture distinguish it from an ordinary hamburger. On a big, soft Cuban bun, garnished with maybe a fried egg (“a caballo”) and Swiss or American cheese, then piled with crunchy little potato wisps, the frita stands as a great signature street-food taste of Miami.

Not Your Ordinary Urban Diner

Beyond its superior frita, El Mago goes the extra mile in many ways. Fruit juices dazzle the palate. In particular, intensely fruity watermelon induces summery, blue-sky ecstasy.

When I ask for house hot sauce, which apparently the staff does not usually offer to strangers, the waitress who brings me the bottle (it IS hot!) reminds me to try the creamy-looking sauce in another squeeze bottle. It looks like mayonnaise, but in fact is more: mayo, plus mustard, plus BBQ sauce, plus ginger. The sauce complements a frita, but it also perks up the piles of potato wisps that fall from the sandwich.

This humble strip-mall storefront with its handful of tables and diner-like counter welcomes strangers. The price is right and the Cuban burgers & fruit juice are definitive. If you seek Roadfood in Miami, make this place an essential destination.


Directions & Hours

10:30am - 8pm
  • Monday: 10:30 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:30 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:30 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:30 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:30 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:30 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Sunday: Closed

What To Eat

Frita a Caballo

Potato Wisps

Watermelon Juice


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