Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Fritas Cuban Burger Cafe | Key West Treasure
Review by: Michael Stern
Charming Eateries of Key West
Key West suffers no shortage of colorful places to eat. Blue Heaven, El Siboney and the Half Shell Raw Bar are long-time favorites. Add Fritas Burger Cafe to the list. It’s a Key West treasure that will charm your socks off. Humble, happy, hospitable street food makes it an eat-shack to remember. Named for its signature Frita Burger — a street-food treat from pre-Communist Havana — it serves traditional as well as wildly creative Cuban fare.
Frita Burger: Signature Dish
Appetites raven for the Frita Burger, the namesake dish. Chef infuses a rugged patty of pork and beef with garlic and spice. He tops it with peppery sauce and a great heap of shoestring potatoes. Pile all that into a Cuban roll. Add Manchengo cheese or a fried egg if you want to go take it to the max. To me, it wants no customization. I love its zesty, succulent, and provocative textural balance. The crisp potatoes’ airy, brittle crunch plus the burger’s juicy avoirdupois make sweet music together.
Cuban Sandwich Riffs
What genius created the Cuban sandwich variation here called a Cuban Wreck? “Wreck” plays on weck, as in the beef on weck of Buffalo, New York. (Weck is short for kummelweck, meaning caraway seeds). But this fresh Cuban roll sports no caraway seeds. Salt and pepper spangle its surface. It stars not beef, but mojo roasted pork. No serious appetite could resist pork so exquisitely tender, so deeply flavorful, and so juicy. Its profound flavor seeps into the roll and makes the salty bread itself irresistible.
Not Just Sandwiches
Beyond sandwiches, street food connoisseurs admire Fritas’ conch fritters, empanadas, tacos filled with guava-glazed pork, and an item called a Cuban cigar. What is it? Imagine an egg roll filled with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, and pickles.
As you might guess from the nearly homonymous name of the Wreck sandwich, Fritas is a playful place, extraordinarily so. Its own name is the source of a primary decorative theme throughout the eclectic dining area: the art of Frida Kahlo. You will find variations of her self-portraits everywhere on these walls. A sense of fun permeates the dining experience — in the exuberant variations of traditional Cuban street food as well as in a staff who are genuinely delighted when customers are happy with their meal. Really, what’s not to be happy about in this Key West treasure?
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|