Cuban-inspired street food restaurant Frita Batidos opened in Detroit Wednesday, marking their second location since the restaurant opened in Ann Arbor in 2010. Located downtown, the business is situated between the Fox Theatre and the Fillmore on West Columbia Street. Frita Batidos is the first of many businesses expected to open in the new Columbia Street development in District Detroit in the near future.
The restaurant’s “fritas,” Cuban-style burgers and fries, and “batidos,” tropical fruit milkshakes, have garnered love and appreciation from University of Michigan students, some of whom were excited to hear about the new location in downtown Detroit.
LSA senior Peyton Sternfeld grew up in metro Detroit and recounted hearing about the new location from her mother, who saw the announcement in their local paper. Sternfeld praised the restaurant for its ability to accommodate her food allergies and expressed her excitement about the introduction of Frita Batidos to Detroit.
“I think it’s great that (Frita Batidos is) expanding. … There’s so many fun and new restaurants coming up in Detroit,” Sternfeld said. Frita Batidos is “affordable and it’s great for most people to have a fun, different food option.”
Frita Batidos is known for its customizable options, and the Detroit location will be no different. From black bean burgers topped with fried eggs and avocado spread to churros dusted with cinnamon and sugar, the menu in Detroit will be similar to the Ann Arbor original. Detroit’s location also boasts a full bar and seasonal drink options for customers.
Eve Aronoff is the chef and owner of Frita Batidos and came up with the idea for the Cuban-infused restaurant based on her childhood experiences visiting her grandmother in Miami, as well as her love for the Latinx culture. Frita Batidos’s Detroit location opened after almost a decade of high demand and praises from the local community.
Aronoff noted the positive customer reception of the new location’s opening thus far, especially because of the Detroit natives who now feel like Frita Batidos is closer to home.
“It’s going great and better than we could have imagined, just super warm reception from people in the neighborhood, and the city, and people coming out from Ann Arbor,” Aronoff said. “We didn’t realize how many people used to come to Ann Arbor from Detroit that now are really happy that we’re closer to them, so that felt really good.”
Business sophomore Owen Hill noted that because the restaurant does not solely imitate Cuban cuisine, there is more opportunity for Aronoff and her team to try out different recipes and create unique dishes for patrons.
“It’ll be a completely different vibe in Detroit, obviously, because of the location, but also because it’s not taken from another culture concretely and moved here,” Hill said. “It’s just the creator’s imagination, which opens up a lot of different avenues for her to go down when you open it in Detroit.”
In its nine years, Frita Batidos has gained national recognition and earned its place as Ann Arbor’s go-to spot, receiving glowing reviews from publications including The New York Times, National Geographic and USA Today. The Daily has named Frita Batidos the “Best Burger” in their annual “Best of Ann Arbor” series every year since 2014.
Aronoff and her team gravitated toward opening a location in Detroit “because of the unique character and energy of the city — not just in recent years, but through its rich and complex history” according to the restaurant website. Over the past four years, the Frita Batidos team came close to opening locations in Detroit, but ultimately signed their lease for the Columbia Street location a year and a half ago.
LSA sophomore Courtney Fortin also noted the advantages of bringing Frita Batidos to Detroit as the city continues to develop and establish new homes and businesses. Fortin also explained that while young people go to Detroit for a sporting event or concert, they will be drawn to a unique restaurant atmosphere as opposed to typical chain restaurants.
“It’s good to have a cultural identity for a restaurant, and then put it in a place like Detroit,” Fortin said. “A lot of people go to Detroit to eat, and they don’t want to see a bunch of chain restaurants … I feel like Detroit is the right environment for (Frita Batidos) to be in.”
Aronoff explained that though future plans and collaborations for her restaurant franchise are always in the works, the focus on the two locations she currently operates is on the forefront.
“We’re open to growing, but it’s kind of just one step at a time,” Aronoff said. “We just want to make sure we don’t become a ‘cookie-cutter’ kind of place and really keep the soul to the restaurant and what we’re doing, just (making) sure it’s always very personal.”