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Posted on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Frita Batidos offers Eve Aronoff's tasty twists on Cuban inspiration

By Susan Isaacs Nisbett


Joseph Bedtelyon, left, waits on a customer at Frita Batidos.

Lon Horwedel |

Comfort food rules, and burger joints are popping up everywhere, like mushrooms after a rain. Eve Aronoff, of the recently shuttered eve in Kerrytown, goes the competition one better with her new Frita Batidos, a Cuban-inspired culinary fantasia on burger-and-shake themes, in the former Café du Jour space on West Washington Street.

Coziness and crocheted curtains have given way to a stripped-down white-brick, white-floored box of a room with white, communal picnic tables and a few high counters with stools, plus one at which to order. There’s a bunch of sugar cane stalks in a corner, a silvery flower-petal design high on one wall; mostly, though, the décor manages to look more clinical than tropical, and sound levels can rise to the rafters in the high-ceilinged space. Sit as far to the back as you can in this weather to avoid the draft every time the front door opens.

None of that seems to matter to the clientele crowding those picnic tables to sample Aronoff’s way with burgers (aka fritas), fries, shakes (aka batidos), coffee and more. Expert frying, blending and flavor fireworks — all the brighter for the contrast with the whiteness everywhere but on the plate — explain why it’s been love at first bite — or slurp — for many patrons.


Frita Batidos
117 W. Washington St.

  • Hours: 8 a.m.-midnight, daily. Breakfast menu till 11 a.m. weekdays, expanded morning menu until 2 p.m. on weekends.
  • Plastic: Yes.
  • Liquor: Coming soon.
  • Prices: Moderate, with most items $10 or less.
  • Value: Good.
  • Noise level: Can be boisterous when full.
  • Wheelchair access: Steps at front entrance.

I decided to jump into the experience with both feet; I ordered a luscious coconut batida — frosty but so delicious I’d order it on any 10-degree day (passion fruit is good, too) — and, plastic fork poised, awaited delivery of my chorizo frita loco to the table. (You place your order at the counter, and then, Zingerman’s style, a server calls your name and delivers your food.)

Aronoff’s fritas, riffs on the Cuban originals, are slim chorizo or beef patties (she has fish and black-bean versions, too) crowned with a passel of deep-gold French fries and a slather of piquant mayonnaise before a house-made brioche bun seals the deal.

“Loco” includes just about everything else in the kitchen, and I endorse this, against the better advice of any cardiologist you might consult. Go ahead, add the fried egg, muenster cheese, cilantro-lime salsa, tropical coleslaw. It’s dazzling, if daunting to bite into. (If you’re pinching calories, you can always put it in a lettuce wrap… as if that will do much good.)

I loved the chorizo version, and the beef got equal raves. I haven’t yet tried the fish, but the black-bean version, sampled with cheese and avocado, was mushy and bland (though the black bean sides, including one with beans, coconut-ginger rice, salsa and cheese, are fabulous and seasoned to perfection).

Frying is the order of the day here, be warned, but it’s done with panache for the most part. Fried plaintains, with lots of garlic and chile-mayo dip, were standouts; conch fritters were great, too, best eaten when they’re piping hot. That proviso is important: You order everything at once, lest you have to re-enter the line for a second or third time; so appetizers, fritas and even the dessert you should order — the cinnamon-sugar dusted churros, either with or without hot chocolate dipping sauce — come out at once. Not all tolerate the cooling process gracefully.


Frita Batidos during a recent lunch hour.

Lon Horwedel |

Drinks, while we’re on the matter of service, are likely to come first of all — and you may be done with your batido, or coffee (try the “con leche” with a dense swirl of milk foam and a touch of butter and salt to awaken your taste buds) or refreshing ginger-lime juice before your meal shows up.

And while we’re on the matter of drinks, it’s cool, sort of, maybe, to get your lime juice or coconut water in a plastic baggie with a straw inserted into it. But practical? No, not really. I'm not sure how long this conceit will last. But the coffee window, for street-side drinkers, seems like a good idea, especially come warmer weather.

Frita Batidos goes morning to midnight every day, and breakfast has been in place for around a month now, 8-11 a.m. only; an extended morning menu, with chilaquiles, steak and eggs and tropical bread pudding, is available weekends till 2 p.m. The bacon in the morning “Basico” — two eggs any way, bacon, spicy potatoes — is thick and smoky, a treat then or in the inspired Cuban sandwich that’s also a good bet later in the day. (Ingredients are carefully sourced, locally and abroad.) But the potatoes were flabby and rather greasy when we tried them recently, and another dish, an omelet filled with sweet-and-savory ground-meat picadillo, seemed misguided as well as a little oozy with oil.

You get the feeling, though, that Aronoff, on site on almost every visit I’ve made, will see to this. A liquor license will bring casual tropical libations, and I’d wager kinks in the service will disappear as the temperatures outside climb to a zone that matches the island vibe of Frita Batidos.

Susan Isaacs Nisbett writes about music and food for



Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

I don't get it. why do folks go there? food? been there twice...both times convinced me to never go back. second time, churros took 30 minutes, came out burnt and nothing was done to ameliorate this. grease tasted old. of course, I sent them back.

West Side Mom

Sun, Feb 20, 2011 : 4:17 a.m.

The weekend breakfast menu is not "extended" on weekends until 2 p.m. Its the only menu you can order from until 2 p.m. on weekends. Learned that the hard way today when we arrived for a "late lunch" at 1:30 p.m. and were told we could not order from the regular menu until after 2 p.m. Very odd. Was also told that the weekday breakfast has been discontinued. Too bad. I was looking forward to having another quick breakfast choice downtown.


Sat, Feb 19, 2011 : 2:17 p.m.

"And while we're on the matter of drinks, it's cool, sort of, maybe, to get your lime juice or coconut water in a plastic baggie with a straw inserted into it. " The lime juice is served that way, but the coconut water is served in the coconut.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

I'm a big fan of lime, and the ginger lime juice tastes fantastic. I'd order by the pitcherful. But, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the baggie of juice is... strange. You can't set it down, so you have to drink it all at once. It looks like an IV bag, or a goldfish bag. If, as instructed, you squeeze the lime as you go, the contents squirt out the top. I felt like a toddler trying to drink out of a juice box. Yeah, it could work on the beach, dribbling down your tanned belly, but not very well on a lunch break dribbling down the front of your suit. Love the food.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 3:50 a.m.

Thanks to Aronoff the Fleetwood is no longer the ugliest place to eat ! Yes, all of the trendoids are flocking there and make the place look busy but wait until some other new place opens and all the trendoids follow the crowd to the new "in" place.

Marc Williams

Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 7:03 p.m.

I'll disagree and say the ugliest place to eat in Ann Arbor is the basement dining area at Five Guys on State. The tacky signs and surveillance cameras really add a nice touch. I am far from being a "trendoid," the food at Frita Batidos is yummy and I found the exceptionally bright dining room to be a nice change in the dead of winter. Cheerful.

Jessica Webster

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

@Rodney and Barb - this is the first review we've written and published of Frita Batidos. Last week I aggregated a review that was published in Current. It is true that Eve has gotten a lot of ink recently. Between the closing of her Kerrytown restaurant and the opening of the Frita Batidos - plus her turn on Top Chef - there's been a lot to write about.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

I'm with Rodney. Enough already. Can we review some other places? We only have a gazillion other eateries in A2...

Morris Thorpe

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

How many reviews is going to have about this place?? Seriously, I don't understand why Eve (a nice person, I'm sure) is written about so much. Just click on the tags at the bottom of the story and you'll see what I mean.