Sunday, December 12, 2010

Frita Batidos: Morning, 1:30 PM, and Night

We rarely get new "upscale" restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor (the last two I can think of were Grange and Jolly Pumpkin, both of which have definitively carved out niches in the food scene - such as it is), and there's definitely a bit of buzz that will build until a new establishment opens. Mix that with the relative fame (+ Top Chef infamy) that Eve Aronoff, proprietor of eve, has around town, and the opening of Frita Batidos was eagerly awaited throughout the fall. Not least by me, because I love Latin American food (esp. Cuban/Mexican), and we have terrible, terrible options in this town for it.

Eager to pull off my best Frank Bruni impression (without the eating disorder, of course), I made three different trips to Frita Batidos on Friday. One in the morning (sadly, they're not serving breakfast until next month), one for lunch, and one for dinner. What I found was a somewhat inconsistent, relatively tasty menu.

The aesthetic of Frita Batidos is sort of like modernist picnic-chic - ice blues and white dominate in a space filled with clean lines and tables you'll remember from summer camp. It doesn't scream Cuba, although the colors are a little Miami. For a morning pick-me-up I ordered a Chocolate EspaƱol and churros, making the mistake of asking for "churros con chocolate" as though I actually was in Mexico D.F. Oops. But they were delicious, the chocolate thick and rich, perfect for dipping with the orange, cinnamon, and nutmeg spiced churros. But they definitely weren't $8 delicious - a ridiculous price.

At lunch I had a subtle, delicious salad, though of course you can't go wrong with avocados and guava vinagrette. Because I'm a vegetarian I made sure to go with plenty of carnivore friends, all of whom liked their fritas but weren't fans of the small size. You get a very, very basic burger at Frita Batidos - one you can augment with different options (cheese, egg, salsa, etc.), but for a price. At dinner, I had the black bean frita wrapped in lettuce; the healthiest option of all, and certainly good, but again not at the $7 price. One friend had Cuban Sloppy Joe and pronounced the picadillo to be amazing and amazingly authentic. Sides, like the coconut rice and plantains, were savory and quickly consumed. The colado - a jug of Cuban coffee served in tiny thimbles - was a perfect after-dinner conclusion, and one friend raved about the smoothness of the coconut batido milkshake.

In general I think it's worth a trip (maybe with rich friends or parents footing the bill so you can really satiate yourself), but not a regular spot. I'm eager to see what might happen when they start serving alcohol (they've filed the application) and breakfast (January 3 is the current estimate), especially because I have an irrational love of chilaquiles. Because I have opinionated friends, feelings regarding the high points and success of Frita Batidos abounded. The non-headline items were the favorites - the churros, the sides, and the coffee. And since Frita Batidos is open until midnight (and until 2 AM Thursday through Saturday), we agreed that churros con chocolate would be a great late-night drunk food snack. I can definitely see myself saving money at one of the West Side bars, only to blow it all away on a greasy, chocolately, fried meal that I don't need to eat. I'm sure I'll love it.


  1. Sounds delicious, GH. I can't wait till I'm done with finals so I can go.

  2. I've been twice now and we've been happy with both trips.

    I was very impressed with their coffee. The Americano is very good, their special roast of beans are great, I'll definitely be buying some for home. I tried the cafecito too, which was maybe a little surprisingly sweet, but pretty good.

    The fritters are good and come with a nice trio of sauces (creme fraiche, salsa, and a mayo so good this mayo-hater liked it). The rice, bean, salsa, and cheese side is delicious too, it's even a little lighter than I thought it would be.

    The fritas are a bit small, but they're filling and delicious. I had a pulled pork sandwich most recently, and that's a slightly larger option and very tasty.

  3. I guess you can say that you've pique-adilloed my interest. No?

  4. Bens, let's go post-haste for churros con chocolate. They have plugs and wifi for studying!

  5. wow, google translator seems to be way off. at least in ecuadorian spanish, "frita batidos" means "fried milkshakes," which doesn't even make sense. not to mention the grammar is way off: should be "fritos batidos," at least to my mind.