Although plantains are indigenous to the African region, it has somewhat become synonymous with Caribbean and Latin food in the past century. Because of the ever-present African influence in these countries and cultures, there are very few of them that do not have a version of fried plantains. Fried plantains can come in different variations, from the sweet and caramelized version served in slices, to the pressed and starchy form served in countries like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. At Pincho Factory, Nedal, the owner, took the idea of Miami’s huge population of Caribbean and Latin people and combined it with their love for pressed and fried green plantains (tostones) to fuse it with typical Americana fare and create the Toston Burger.
The Toston Burger ($7.99 as of 2014) may sound like a gimmick at first, as it uses two fried plantains as the buns, tops it with jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and homemade cilantro sauce. Instead of falling victim to the gimmick factor, this burger delivers a package of contrasting flavors, temperatures, and flavors that make it a destination worthy meal. The starchy plantains are salty and crunchy, somehow avoiding the greasiness that is normally associated with fried food. Their flavor is not too pronounced due to the nature of unripe produce, but Nedal uses this at his advantage to let his beef and vegetables speak for themselves. The fresh cut blend of chuck, brisket, and short rib that is always made to order has a secret seasoning that differentiates this burger from the competition, and the piece de resistance is the cilantro sauce. Just like every other sauce at Pincho Factory, the cilantro sauce is homemade and delivers the moisture that the tostones lack.
The burger is decadent and satisfying as it is served, but those in the know and willing to up their caloric intake for the day can add fried cheese ($2.50) to their order. This slab of “queso fresco” is a nod to the Nicaraguan side that is typically served with Fritanga. The cheese is salty, chewy, and squeaky, adding to the range of textures and flavors.
Where to try them: Pincho Factory. 30 Giralda Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134. 305.446.5666. 9860 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165. 305.631.2038