There's magic inside...
I think it was about a year ago that I received an email from the Burger Beast inviting me to join up with him and a few other people for lunch at El Mago de la Frita. I work further North and don't really have much of a lunch break, so I had to decline. Well, it just so happened that the night before that day, I came down with a 24-hour cold that was bad enough to keep me home from work feeling like crap the following morning. As a kid, sometimes when I stayed home sick from school my Dad would come home on his lunch break with a burger and fries from McDonald's. I'm not sure if it was the grease from the food or just the spiritual boost a kid gets from Dad bringing home some McD's but it always made me feel better. So, I decided that a burger would get me back on track and went out to meet the Burger Beast and his band of merry men and women at El Mago.
I'd never been to El Mago before. Actually, I'd never even heard of it. I certainly didn't know what the hell a "frita" was either but I remembered "Best Frita" being a category at last year's "Burgie Awards" so I figured it was something I'd have to try. El Mago de la Frita is located just West of Red Road on Calle Ocho. I arrived on that first visit to find a counter lined with friends: Paula, Jackie, Gagit, and The Beast himself were ready to scarf down some fritas. An older Cuban gentleman dressed in a white shirt and apron paced behind the counter cooking fritas to order. This was El Mago "the magician" himself and he was in the zone, flipping patties with his magical spatula. A frita, I learned, is a Cuban burger where the patty contains some ground beef, a little onion, and a bit of ground chorizo. Sounds kinda awesome, right? It is topped with crispy shoestring potatoes, some magical sauce which I believe is ketchup, and you can add can add a slice of cheese too which I'm told is "for the gringos". Using Paula as my translator, I placed my order gringo style and added a fried egg for good measure. Yeah, this gringo came to party. Once the patty has been grilled on the flat top, it is placed on top of a bun made from Cuban bread and then the toppings are added. The frita then heads to the panini press for a few minutes to toast the bun and warm the awesomeness inside it.
My frita arrived and I quickly dug in. To my surprise, I really liked the Cuban bread bun. Normally I am not a fan of Cuban bread but this worked and held the frita together without getting soggy. The flavor of the patty was awesome. The chorizo adds a nice savory flavor with a little spice. The fried egg was also a winner of a decision, it's yolk adding a creamy texture to each bite. I think my favorite part was the shoestring potatoes though. They were so tiny and crispy and added nice crunch to each bite. I think my frita lasted about four minutes on my plate. It was so good that I immediately forgot about my cold and started feeling better.
There was a frita from El Mago here but it magically disappeared
into my belly faster than my iPhone's shutter speed could capture it
I sat at the counter and chatted for a bit before saying "adios" and heading back to my place to veg out on the couch and get some rest. Since then, I've been back to El Mago a few times and even visited El Rey de la Frita for a comparison. What I learned is that El Mago es El Rey!!
See footage of the Burger Beast annihilating some fritas at multiple locations but declaring El Mago the best here.
Check it out:
El Mago de la Frita
5828 Southwest 8th Street
West Miami, FL 33144