We’ve written about El Mago de las Fritas on these pages before, but there’s no harm in bringing this beauty of a sandwich back to the forefront of our collective consciousness on occasion. Before we get into construction, though, a bit of history.
The Frita Cubana is a classic regional hamburger, first invented in Cuba in the 1930s but brought over to Miami in the early 1960s by one Dagoberto Estevil, according to lore. That’s when he opened Fritas Domino, and the legend was born.
The burger can be found all over Miami (there’s even a chain that specializes in them, El Rey de la Fritas), but El Mago de las Fritas, opened in 1984 by Ortelio Cardenas, was the first to do something truly magical to the sandwich: they added cheese.
To create this gem of a burger, seasoned ground beef, augmented by chorizo and heavy on the paprika, is fried on a flattop and smashed down with a spatula. It’s then placed on a soft Cuban bun, then topped with ketchup, sautéed onions, and thin-cut, freshly fried potato sticks. A fried egg is also added to make this particular variety, called the Frita Caballo, as well as a slice of cheese (which, though delicious, is sometimes frowned upon).
But don’t concern yourself with being frowned upon. Concern yourself with devouring this near-perfect sandwich, which just so happens to be the exact same one that President Obama ordered when he dropped by in 2008.
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