Ann Arbor is home to many amazing restaurants, and Frita Batidos rates high on that list. While it may appear similar to a burger and fry joint, Frita Batidos is a marriage of Cuban flavors that transport you to the tropics. I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten a better burger. And that coconut batido milkshake? Sweet and delectable. All this and they’re totally hip on safely preparing foods for those with food sensitivities.
I contacted Paterno Johnson, the general manager at Frita Batidos, prior to our midweek lunchtime visit. They’ve received great reviews on the Find Me Gluten Free app, but I wanted to inquire further. Reviewers piqued my interest, stating that Frita Batidos has a dedicated fryer. (Gluten-free French Fries are the way to this gal’s heart!) They have a guide that lays out their menu by special requirements, be it gluten-free, vegetarian, lighter side, and more. Paterno explained, via email, their step-by-step process for handling an order for a customer with food allergies.
When you place your order at the counter, the front-of-house staff comes in the kitchen to talk to the expediter. The “expo” circles the allergy item in red sharpie on both the yellow and white tickets so the line cooks and “expo” is always aware. Line cooks wash their hands then don clean gloves as they prepare the food. When someone has an allergy to any item from the grill, we cook the item in a separate, clean and sanitized pan (with clean utensils) to avoid cross contamination. When the food is ready, they put the food in our food trays and give it directly to the expo. He or she clearly marks the tray and informs the Front Of House staff which item has the allergy.
For anything that needs to be cooked in the fryer (like their DELICIOUS French Fries) away from contaminated items, we use a clean, sanitized pot that we heat unused oil in. Like everything else, line cooks wash their hands then use gloves as they prepare the food. Food delivery to the customer is the same as above. If a guest is eating with a group, their food will not be on the same tray to avoid cross contamination. Also, per requirements from the health department, a Frita Batidos has a manager that is Serv Safe Allergen Certified. While the law only requires one, Paterno understands the wisdom of having as multiple staff aware of the steps to keep food allergy guests safe.
Now that we’ve got the food safety covered, let’s get to the amazing food at Frita Batidos!
The name of the restaurant, Frita Batidos, refers to Cuban burgers named Fritas. They create traditional fritas from chorizo, served on brioche buns, topped with shoestring fries and a remoulade-style sauce. Right now, Frita Batidos doesn’t carry gluten-free buns. To be honest, I’m not sure it totally needs one. It was the MOST perfectly flavored patty I think I’ve eaten in my WHOLE LIFE. However, manager Paterno Johnson was receptive to my suggestion of a local gluten-free bakery, should they ever decide to carry a gluten-free bun. I really appreciate his willingness to listen to suggestion.
Even if we can’t have the fries on our frita at the moment, we can still have the fries. As mentioned, alert the front of the house staff when you order, and they will cook them in a fresh, clean pot of oil. In addition to the regular fries, they also make garlic-cilantro fries that Paterno served to us with a lemon scented mayo. What a combination of flavor!
Frita Batidos is more than just burgers, fries and milkshakes. They have some great sides as well. The staff aptly named this dish “The Best Snack Ever.” It’s comprised of coconut-ginger rice layered with black beans and melted Muenster, mixed with cilantro-lime salsa. I could seriously eat this every day. You also have to try the twice-fried plantains. They taste a bit like a baked potato, again topped with black beans, Muenster, cilantro-lime salsa, and the addition of avocado spread and creme fraiche. If you are a vegetarian eater, you can eat well with these items, sans meat.
Of course, you have to save room for dessert. Although, life is short, so you might order one of their signature batidos first. Paterno gave us samples of the Coconut Cream and Passion Fruit batidos. I preferred the coconut, while my husband preferred the Passion Fruit. I want to go back to try the Chocolate Espanol batido, which is dark melted chocolate steeped with cinnamon. If you’re looking for something lighter, they’ll make one with crushed ice and less ice cream. Or take a regular one up a notch and add a splash of rum!
Frita Batidos is famous for their churros, which unfortunately are not gluten-free. However, Paterno was nice enough to give me a deep fried plantain, coated in cinnamon and sugar. With that, he served me some of that delicious chocolate espanol .,as well as “cajeta.” Cajeta is slow cooked caramel made from goat’s milk. I can’t even begin to tell you how CRAZY delicious this is. Make a batido with that and chocolate espanol and I would be in HEAVEN.
Eve Aronoff is the creative chef and owner of Frita Batidos. She has won extensive awards for her cooking. After eating here, I can understand why. Eve and her staff are eager to support local, visiting local farms & purveyors and expanding their cooking skills through culinary expeditions. They also place a high value on ongoing, continuing education for all staff. They take advantage of guidance from like minded businesses, such as Zingerman’s Zing Train courses. This and more is what makes Ann Arbor a great dining destination. There’s room for all the flavors of the palate here in A2. I look forward to returning to Frita Batidos soon and often. Especially for happy hour, because there’s a discount on those amazing fries!
117 W. Washington
Ann Arbor MI 48104
Have you eaten at Frita Batidos? What’s your favorite menu item? Do restaurants that focus on sourcing local ingredients, like Frita Batidos, more readily make you want to dine there?
** I was not charged for my meal. All of my thoughts and opinions are my own. Such as I need to go back for another round of those french fries!*