Food & Drink Magazine

South Beach Miami Culinary Tour

By Take A Bite Out Of Boca @shaywiz
I don’t think you realize how many opportunities there are for foodies in South Florida. I find something new every day — new events, tastings, restaurants, etc. Never a dull moment, that’s for sure. I’ve definitely had my share of experiences here in Boca and Delray, but it’s very rare that I’m able to venture off to other south Florida locations to visit their local scene. So if I get the chance to do so, there’s no way I’m saying no.
Last weekend I went on a culinary tour of South Beach. The tour is run by Miami Culinary Tours founder Grace Della. Grace reached out to me and invited me and a guest to come and take one of the two tours she offers — the South Beach Food Tour or Little Havana Food Tour. I chose the South Beach tour since it offers more of a variety of food to try and places to see. Little Havana is strictly Cuban food in one area of Miami. Cuban food is delicious and it’s probably an awesome tour; maybe I’ll go back and take this tour, too. 

South Beach Miami Culinary Tour

Colombian empanada/fried plantain/shredded chicken

The South Beach tour offers both a lunch and dinner tour. It’s a 2 1/2 hour walking tour through South Beach with 7 or 8 stops along the way. Not only did we get to taste some amazing food, but Grace taught us a lot about the history of the area — the architectural design of the buildings, the people who made Miami so famous, the culinary history behind the restaurants, etc. She knows so much about the area and made it all very interesting. We were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous day too, although it was a little cold for my liking. I was wrapped up in a scarf and jacket, but the sun was shining all day. About 15 of us took the lunch tour. There were people from different parts of south Florida, but the majority were out-of-towners here on vacation. 
The tour started at a very authentic Colombian restaurant on Washington Ave., Bolivar. We walked up to a long table set for us with drinks and a small plate of food. The drink was a beer cocktail: beer mixed with this Columbian cream soda. It was so good — very light and carbonated without that heavy taste you sometimes get from beer. They served the classic empanada (mine was filled with chicken while everyone else had beef) and a fried green plantain topped with shredded chicken and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. There was also a salsa verde for dipping. It was a little on the spicy side, but still really good. My favorite was the plantain. Although I didn’t particularly like starting out my day with a beer and fried food, I just made sure not to scarf down the entire thing, so I’d have room for all the great food to come over the next 2 hours.

Next we walked to Serafina, a Northern Italian-inspired restaurant on Collins Avenue, where we had a bowl of gazpacho and a piece of their homemade bread. Grace explained to us that the chef will only use flour from Napals, Italy to make his bread. That bread was  so good. The edges were perfectly crunchy but not too hard and the inside was soft with so much flavor. Keep that Italian flour comin’! The gazpacho was really flavorful, too. I’m not a huge fan of cold soup, but this had a pleasant taste and was good for dipping the bread.

South Beach Miami Culinary Tour

Gazpacho

The next stop, still on Collins Avenue, was at David’s Cafe for some Cuban Coffee and a guava pastry. That coffee...oh my god. It’s so sweet and delicious. All they gave us was a tiny little shot of it, but that is seriously all you need to get a feel for the intensity of the flavor and caffeine. I could have drunk more of it, but any more than a taste and I would have completely wound me up for the rest of the day. 

South Beach Miami Culinary Tour

Guava pastry


We were on Collins Avenue for our next stop, as well. Barok was a goreous restaurant overlooking the beach. The decor was very “South Beach.” The chef came out to introduce himself and explain the dishes he was serving us. We were given a lemonade cocktail. The waitress said it was vodka, but McKenzie and I definitely tasted gin and a little bit of ginger. It was really good, but I would have liked to know exactly what it was. We were also given a plate of three small bites — a tuna burger on top of toasted pita and drizzled with an aioli sauce, a vegetable spring roll wrapped in rice paper and pork belly over a little coleslaw — which I gave to McKenzie. I really enjoyed the spring roll, and the crispy pita was good too. I checked out the restaurant’s menu before leaving and everything sounds so good. This might be a nice spot to go back to while my parents are visiting next month while we spend some time in South Beach. 

South Beach Miami Culinary Tour

Tuna burger on pita/veggie spring roll/pork belly

South Beach Miami Culinary Tour

Inside Barok

The next place we went was Jerry’s Famous Deli, still on Collins Avenue, where we had a Jewish staple dessert — ruggelach! It had a raspberry filling, which is definitely a new flavor for me. I’ve had chocolate, cinnamon, apricot, raisin, but never raspberry. It was so good. I looooove ruggelach. I made mint chocolate ones last winter. It is not an easy thing to make; that dough takes a lot of time and energy, but in the end it’s totally worth it. I will make sure to bring my parents to Jerry’s for a little taste of South Beach Jewish food while they’re visiting. 

South Beach Miami Culinary Tour

Ruggelach

South Beach Miami Culinary Tour

Argentinian empanada

Then we headed back to Washington Avenue and stopped at Charlotte’s Bakery for an Argentinian-style empanada filled with chicken and topped with a creamy avocado sauce. I liked this empanada better than the one we had at the Colombian place. It was baked instead of fried and I found it to have a lot more flavor. The avocado sauce was a must...a delicate, light flavor that complimented the flaky crust and shredded chicken very well. 
Grace then took us to Espanola Way to a Thai place called Momo Cha for a taste of their bubble tea. I’ve always wondered what this stuff was — the weird little bubbles at the bottom freak me out so I’ve been too afraid to try it. Turns out they are tapioca balls filled with whatever the flavor of the tea is. We had a green tea flavor and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it. As weird as those tapioca balls seem, they were fun to slurp up though the straw and their chewy texture was actually the selling point for me. 
We stayed on Espanola Way for our last stop of the day — dessert. Homemade gelato at Milani Gelateria. There were so many flavors to choose from! I tried a taste of the dulce de leche and the hazelnut, but ended up going with the rum raisin. McKenzie got the stracciatella and of course I had to try a taste. It was a mix between chocolate chip and cookies and cream...YUM. 

South Beach Miami Culinary Tour

Gelato

Sadly, the tour ended here. But we left with full bellies and lots of places to add to our list of south Florida restaurants we’ve been to. It was a really great tour — a good variety of food and the places we went ranged from old-school authentic, to hole-in-the-wall mom & pop, to fancy upscale beach-front restaurants. I would recommend the tour to anyone visiting the area, or to anyone who just has an interest in food and culture and wants to learn (and eat!). 
The day didn’t end there for me and McKenzie though. We were in Miami, so naturally we had lots more exploring to do... 
Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the three additional places we went to before making our way back up the coast.

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