When chef Eve Aronoff opened Frita Batidos in downtown Ann Arbor in 2010, her twist on Cuban street food quickly became a favorite among Ann Arbor locals. Frita refers to the traditional Cuban chorizo burgers served with shoestring fries on an egg bun; those burgers can definitely be found at Aronoff's restaurant, alongside fish, beef, black bean, and chicken variations. Batidos means milkshakes — here with tropical flavors such as lime, coconut, hibiscus, or passion fruit. Together with sides such as plantains or coconut-ginger rice, diners are treated to the flavors and nostalgia of Cuba and beyond.
Chef Aronoff is now embarking on a new project. She plans to revive upscale eve the restaurant on South Thayer Street, where she will offer an updated take on her earlier (now shuttered) project by the same name. Eater's Ann Arbor contributor Hannah Lowe caught up with Aronoff last weekend to talk burgers and her forthcoming restaurant.
Frita Batidos has consistently been recognized for the quality and creativity of its food. What's the continuing driving passion for you at Frita Batidos?
The driving passion for me is always to create something special, personal, and delicious - It takes a lot of great people and attention to detail to have that come together but that's what I always want to create. I guess the deeper passion behind that is wanting to feed people and make them happy and that is what is most fulfilling.
How has Frita Batidos evolved over the years?
I have definitely seen Frita Batidos evolve over the years. Mostly [I'm] trying to work to refine our systems to be able to do the best job possible with very tight space constraints (i.e. no walk in cooler, no back door to receive deliveries etc...) but it is always a fun challenge. We are always looking at bottlenecks and trying to improve them. For example, we have worked to make the line go more quickly and be more of an enjoyable experience by sending out samples and doing cocktail service to the line when it's busy.
What's your current favorite combination on the menu?
My favorites are always the things that people order the least for some reason. I love the chicken frita with muenster, lemon scented mayo, and cilantro lime salsa personally and the Inspired Cuban. Those have been and stayed my personal favorites.
What's your timeline for the reopening of eve?
The exact [opening] date is TBD, but sometime during peak growing season.
It's been reported that the menu will be heavily vegetarian. Is there anything else you can share about the menu planning and ingredient sourcing currently?
Yes, there will be many vegetarian options which I am very excited about. We will have an extensive "Bounty" section of the menu, which highlights the seasonal harvest and that will be predominantly vegetarian. I love special orders, so we will always try to be very accommodating to dietary preferences and special requests. We are working to source as much of the meat as possible from humane farms. Working through the logistics is sometimes a challenge, but that is something that is very personally important to me.