Miami Culinary Tours in South Beach-Great experience for tourists as well as locals alike By Betty Alvarez

I have always heard of Miami Culinary Tours as lovers of food who are new or old to the area walk to different restaurants to taste a piece of Miami’s gastronomic delights. It was not until recently that I got to join this savory tour that really opened my eyes on Miami and its rich culinary history.

First stop: 660 at the Angler’s- I arrived late at the first stop. The restaurant served fresh ceviche and tiradito. For my fellow walkers, it was a great start as it refreshed them as we walked in the hot Miami sun.

2nd Stop: Bolivar Restaurant. We stopped by this Colombian restaurant where each table in our area already had a Reposo cocktail mixed with Colombian beer and a small plate with one empanada colombiana (a deep fried crunchy corn Colombian patty stuffed with shredded beef and potatoes) and Patacones de Pollo (deep fried green plantains topped with shredded chicken with a hot sauce on the side. The sauce was a little bit too much to handle given that I am Peruvian and thank goodness the cold cocktail made it better. However for my fellow table foodies they preferred to be without it. But it was all good and tasty. Our tour guide Anna explained the various other Colombian cuisines that included la bandeja paisa; a typical fusion cuisine Colombian dish containing an oversized amount of food and the wide variety of ingredients, which prevent it from being served on a single regular plate, so it must be served in a platter or a tray. Yum!

In between some stops our tour guide talk about some of the historic buidings of Miami Beach such as the architecture of the Art Deco Hotel and one of the most famous photographed places in the world, the Versace Mansion while we all cooled off in the shade.

3rd Stop: David’s Cafe. This is one of the famous historic Cuban quick stop in Miami Beach. We were greeted by Pastelitos de Guayaba (Guava Pastries) and the famous Cafecito Cubano (Cuban Coffee). It was delish and for my fellow tour friends who were from Ohio it was nothing that they never tasted before. They never had Cuban coffee therefore it was great to see them enjoying a taste of Miami and Cuban history.

4th Stop: Larios on the Beach. After our tour guide Anna told us the history of Cardozo Hotel and how the Estefan Family built their empire in the culinary world, we strolled to Larios on the Beach Pop Up location inside the Cardozo Hotel. Their old location on the 800 block of Ocean Drive is currently being remodeled. Their smaller but yet popular place still serves the same delicacy. Due to the fact that we were all hot from our walking tour our waiter quickly severed us a tall glass of water while some of the fellow foodies ordered cocktails. A good basket of Cuban flattened bread served out of the oven was also brought to our table. Minutes later a small tasting plate of Ropa Vieja (shredded beef), Platanos Maduros (Sweet plantains), Arroz moro (White rice mixed with black beans) came to our table. Delish! This good serving of food was the highlight of our tour. It was overwhelmed with the array of flavors.

As we were going to our fifth stop, we headed to Deco Drive Cigars where Anna was explaining the history of the store as the Cuban cigar maker was sitting inside near the window for everyone to see how he made the cigars. Some of my fellow friends even went inside to buy them. To cool off from the dreaded heat, the rest of us headed almost next door to the Z hotel as we saw a good game of human chess in a lounge area located directly below the pool. If you look up you can see the pool area where some the kid swimmers said hi to us as they had some fun swimming in the depths of the pool.

5th stop: Jerry’s Famous Deli. Haven’t been here for over 2 years, the place has not changed. Formerly the gay disco nightclub Warsaw Ballroom in the 90’s, this deli came to be one of the famous pit stop for a good deli sandwich or meal. A sweet treat was served to us: Raspberry Rugala which is a delicious Jewish pastry.

6th Stop: Blocks Pizza Deli. Located in Washington Avenue, this small and quaint family-owned pizzeria makes delicious pizzas one “block” at a time. They only allow the freshest ingredients, organic seasonal produce, all natural deli meats sliced before you and homemade sauces to top the delicately baked crust. Other than pizzas, they cover all sorts of other cravings with home baked Blocks Pockets and freshly made Salads that also come in a delicious crispy Pocket. For our group experience the owner himself made the Sun-dried Hippie Block Pocket made out of sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, baby Spinach, basil pesto, and Kalamata olives. It’s like eating a pocket sandwich. Delish! All healthy and organic. Just the way I like it.

7th and last stop: Milani Gelateria. We headed to the beautiful and lovely Espanola Way where we strolled through the pedestrian walkway looking at all the quaint restaurants until we hit our last stop of the tour, Milani Gelateria. Authentic Italian Gelato. They showed off their gelato machine that contained the sweet and cool treat featuring a pinwheel of different flavors. OMG! We were all hot and could not wait to try a taste of heaven. I had the tropical gelato and it was sweet and creamy. It was a great ending to a hot day where we all learned great things during the food tour.

All in all, we hit seven stops, tried food from all over the country, mingled with people (mainly tourists) from all over the world, and as a local, I felt like a tourist. What a great afternoon and a great experience! I recommend that you should try it out!

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