ANN ARBOR, MI — Cuban-inspired street food has been among the prime cuisines of downtown Ann Arbor.
Frita Batidos for nearly 10 years has served fritas, a seasoned pork or beef patty sandwich topped with shoestring fries and other savory ingredients, and batidos, tropical milkshakes made with fruit, vanilla ice cream and crushed ice, at 117 W Washington St. in Ann Arbor.
Owner Eve Aronoff grew up in Miami where she was inspired to bring Cuban flavors to Ann Arbor.
“It’s a really personal, independent restaurant. Chef-driven. We make everything from scratch. It’s kind of a hybrid between the passion and attention to detail from a formal restaurant …to an ‘everything goes’ environment,” Aronoff said. “I’ve had a lot of experience and training in formal restaurants, and working at the hot dog vendor at Fenway Park. I really care about the ingredients and attention to detail.”
Chorizo, beef fritas and coconut cream batidos are the most popular items but customers often feel “so passionate” about whichever frita they order, Aronoff said. Other frita options include chicken and black bean, with each ingredient cooked on its own section of the grill to avoid mixing proteins.
“My favorite is the chicken frita,” Aronoff said. “(It’s) like the turkey meatloaf I used to make through high school and college… the turkey frita, we make around Thanksgiving. It’s funny because that’s very personal to me because for so many years, I made it at home as a meatloaf. Then we made it into a frita.”
The restaurant uses Guernsey Farms Dairy ice cream to whip up cold milkshakes that come in a variety of flavors, including: hibiscus passion fruit, fresh lime, coconut cream chocolate Espanol, which is a Spanish chocolate with cinnamon, and several other flavors rotated throughout the seasons.
While fritas and batidos are the staple items, Aronoff suggests customers also try the Best Snack Ever, which is a vegetarian and super flavorful and hearty” dish containing coconut ginger rice, black beans, melted muenster cheese and cilantro-lime salsa.
The restaurant is expanding into the former Logan space next door, which Aronoff plans to accommodate more dining space, a cocktail bar and more menu items that are available at the Detroit location.
“We want it to be ready by the time the cold weather comes,” Aronoff said. “We have such a close-knit group of us with the community… we’ve supported each other through this. They work so hard.”
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