The frita itself dates back to 1930s Cuba, where it began as street food — carts with propane-fueled stoves lined the street selling overstuffed chorizo burgers. Today, the frita can be found at a number of South Florida establishments, including a few locations across the Miami-Dade line at Cuban restaurants like Rey De Las Fritas, Fritas Domino, La Palma, and Morro Castle.
But if a trip to Calle Ocho or Hialeah isn't on your to-do list, now you can find a made-to-order version in Broward County at the new Colada, a Cuban coffee house and eatery. Here, the frita is just one of many Cuban-fusion dishes that can be found on the menu.
Colada cofounders Ryan Campbell and Alex Recio opened their first location in early April. The idea for the business actually began a few years ago, however, when the childhood friends helped to revamp and relocate Hollywood's Miramar Bakery, a longtime Cuban bakery known for supplying many Cuban restaurants in both Broward and Palm Beach counties with its baked goods.
Colada is the next generation of Miramar Bakery, says Campbell, a one-stop shop serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night eats at the Flagler Village apartment complex in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
"What sets Colada apart from Miramar Bakery is the food," says Campbell. "We knew we wanted to offer the traditional dishes but in a hip, fast-casual setting."
The 1,500-square-foot eatery has a little something for everyone, including lounge-style and outdoor seating, free Wi-Fi, and several TVs. A wine and liquor license allows Campbell and Recio to offer a weekday happy hour as well, serving craft beer, sangria, and mojitos on tap.
During the day, it's the type of place where you can watch a sports game, host an informal business meeting, or relax with friends. Come the weekends, you can also enjoy a Cuban-American-style brunch, complete with bottomless beverages. As a result, the Colada menu is more than just a spinoff of Miramar Bakery's traditional offerings, says Campbell, but a space that helps to bridge the gap between American and Cuban eateries, making it easier for non-Spanish-speaking patrons to order dishes like ropa vieja, cafe Cubano, and — of course — that frita.
The menu opens with a selection of Cuban coffee made using a specialty roast created for Colada and prepared the traditional Cuban way, everything from the colada and cortadito to cafe con leche.
Breakfast, served until 10:30 a.m. daily, offers a number of select baked goods provided by Miramar Bakery — delivered frozen and baked fresh daily at the Colada kitchen — including guava pastries, ham croquettes, chicken empanadas, and the bakery's famous flan cheesecake. Breakfast sandwiches can be custom-made: ham, bacon, turkey sausage, Swiss cheese or American, paired on Cuban bread, Medianoche, or a croissant. For lunch, traditional sandwiches include the Cuban and Medianoche but also steak, pork, or croquettes served on a choice of Cuban or sweet bread.
The Cuban-American fusion is best seen with a number of happy-hour appetizer-style selections served Monday through Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. Dishes like crispy pork skins (chicharrones) served with a BBQ guava dipping sauce, bacon-wrapped sweet plantains, cod fritters with curry mustard sauce, and mini empanadas filled with chocolate and topped with powdered sugar.
On Sunday, the kitchen delivers an exclusive brunch menu available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., pumping out orders of its most popular items: espresso-infused pancakes topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream, Cuban-bread French toast soaked in tres leche batter and topped with powdered sugar, or a Cuban take on biscuits and gravy with chorizo-flecked sawmill gravy smothering homemade Cuban biscuits. Bottomless drinks start at 11 a.m. and include a choice of flavored mimosas, mojitos, and sangria for $15 per person.
And then there's that frita burger, Colada's own handmade beef and chorizo patty topped with onions, potato sticks, and ketchup. Customers can also choose the build-your-own option, a fully customizable take that can be made with any of the optional add-on ingredients like maduros (sweet fried plantains), ropa vieja, lechon, tostones, French fries, or a fried egg.
"So far, we've just been blown away with how well the entire concept has been received," says Campbell. "We knew this would be a multilocation concept, but we didn't really expect to move forward so quickly. We're already are looking for our second location."
Colada is located at 525 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-368-4705, or visit coladahouse.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.