Back in May I headed to Miami for a popular food conference that I was attending and one of the first things I did while I was there was go on a food tour. My friends and I had been planning the trip for a few months, and as we counted down to Miami time the excitement grew! We came across the Miami Food Tours by Miami Culinary Tours during the planning process, and they offered us a complimentary tour that we could review. We thought it would be a great way to kick off our Miami trip, so we scheduled it for the first day we were there before the conference began.
We were staying in downtown Miami, so we grabbed a cab to head over to South Beach to begin our tour. This is where we met Mirka (who I quickly discovered shares the same last name as me!) and she led us on our journey while we ate our way through South Beach.
The Meeting Place
Our first stop was at Bolivar Restaurant while we waited for the rest of the people that would be touring with us. This is where we met one another, chatted, discovered where everyone was visiting from and got to know who we’d spend the next 2.5 hours with!
As soon as we walked in, I loved the funky, colorful and vibrant mood that this restaurant provides.
While we waited, we were served a Refajo Colombiano – this drink is made with Colombiana soda and Aguila beer. The soda is similar to a cream soda and combined with the beer this is a crisp, slightly sweet drink with a fun fizziness. I actually really enjoyed the drink and plan to make it at home.
Once everyone arrived and we all met and exchanged pleasantries, we were served our first bites of culinary excellence. It was Passion Fruit Ceviche and a Beef & Potato Empanada with a spicy ahi sauce.
The ceviche was surprisingly un-fishy tasting, and the passion fruit gave it an entirely different flavor. The empenada was out of this world delicious, and had a wonderful crispness to it thanks to the corn based batter. The ahi sauce was spicy as it had a habanero base, but it was a great fusion of flavors that all complimented each other very well. What I learned here, is that the food itself is full of delicious flavors, but Colombian food is served with the spiciness on the side. Loved it!
I really enjoyed this little restaurant. The vibe was eclectic and funky, with a lot of bright colors as well as a full selection of wines to choose from that were available for purchase.
There was space to be seated at the bar, and the restaurant is cozy in a lounge sort of way. I’d love to visit again on a Friday night for a few drinks and to explore the rest of the menu.
Quick Stop for Sweets!
Once we were full off of the delicious Colombian food and drinks, we took a stroll to a fun little Argentinian cafe called Manolo‘s.
Here we did a quick run inside just to grab the best Churro’s I’ve ever had in my life. You know, no big deal, right?
These churro’s have just the right balance of crunch and softness, and they are filled with delicious Dulce de Leche. So amazing!
I was still munching on mine as we left to head over to our next stop. Plotting how to go back and get more!
The Scenic Route
While we finished our delicious churro’s and walked off the food we had consumed so far, we strolled through Washington Avenue and headed over to Collins Avenue and peeked inside the Essex House Hotel.
We left the Essex House and strolled over to Ocean Drive. The weather during that particular weekend was filled with rain and storms and even some flooding, thankfully on the day of our tour it was just slightly overcast with some sprinkles.
While we were on Ocean Drive, learning about the popular architecture and popular art deco style of most of the buildings in Miami, we strolled passed the famous Versace Mansion which has now been turned into a boutique hotel (The Villa by Barton G).
We continued our walk down Ocean Drive which led us to our next stop..
We stopped at the beautiful The Tides South Beach Hotel where we enjoyed delicious Mango Margaritas at The Tides Restaurant and Terrace.
This Tides Restaurant and Terrace is lovely, the perfect place for brunch or a nice lunch. It’s beautifully lit with many windows and a gorgeous beige and gold color scheme that gives an elegant feel without going overboard. I found myself drawn to the dining area with the beautiful tables and gorgeous chairs.
The bartender was waiting for us, and he prepared plenty of mango margaritas for our visit.
The Mango Margaritas were delicious, not overly strong OR sweet,which is important!
We finished our drinks and prepared to head over to our next adventure.
Next Stop, Cuban Food
Cuban food, it’s what you expect when coming to South Beach. Our next location did not disappoint. We stopped at Polo Norte Restauraunt which was in the middle of a name change (to Habanos Cafe) the signs were actually in the process of being switched that morning!
Here we had a large basket of Mariquitas con Mojo (Plantain chips with “mojito” a tasty garlic sauce) waiting for us. I’ve tried plantains before and didn’t particularly care for them, but these Plantain Chips were great! These handcut chips were crispy without being too hard and the sauce was delicious.
We got to sit down at tables and mingle while we waited for the next item to be served, the Pan con Lechon Sandwich. This is a Mojo-roasted pork sandwich with sauteed onions. It was delicious! The bread was firm without being crispy or hard and the pork was juicy, which can only be expected when it’s been slow cooked to perfection and marinated in olive oil, cumin and garlic. I know it doesn’t look like a lot of food, but that sandwich was actually pretty filling!
Headed for the Mother Dough
Next up on our excursion was a stroll further down Washington Avenue. This time landing us at Blocks Pizza Deli, home of the Mother Dough.
This tiny space holds the recipe for the Mother Dough. Described as a 300 year old recipe, the yeast for this dough was kept alive by adding water and flour on a daily basis and never missing a day. For authenticity to it’s origins and recipes, Block’s uses the “Mother Dough” for all of it’s recipes. In addition, Block’s Pizza is all about freshness. They use only natural ingredients, and none of them have been dried or frozen.
Needless to say, I was excited to try the food!
Everything looks so delicious!
Shortly after we arrived and learned the history of Block’s Pizza & Deli, our sampling was ready for us to try. We had the Sundried Hippie Panouzzo with spinach, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and homemade pesto.Sundried Hippie Panouzzo with spinach, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and homemade pesto
It was every bit as delicious as it sounds. I have to admit I wanted to try some of the pizza though, but that’s just me being greedy!
Quaintness with Gelato
Once we were all done stuffing our faces, we headed out for a walk down the quaint streets of Española Way, it felt like we were in Italy with the little streets and the gorgeous scenery.
I just loved this part of the tour, because we were taken away from the busy hustle and bustle of South Beach to this adorable little section that seemed like an entirely different city. Here is where we stopped at Milani Gelateria for some authentic Gelato.
Once inside, you can see the spinning gelato display. This keeps the gelato at the ideal temperature (just above freezing) so it’s perfectly creamy without being solid or icy.
I ordered the cream caramel and pistachio. Unfortunately I took mine outside and it began melting immediately. No worries, it was still amazing. I loved the pistachio flavor.
There is also another stop for Cuban coffee, but we had to duck out early in order to get back in time for other obligations.
Miami Culinary Tours – my final verdict
I had an amazing time on this tour, and it was actually one of the highlights of my trip. It was the perfect way to begin our stay in Miami and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone heading out for a visit. Here are all the tours available:
- Art Deco Breakfast Tour
- South Beach Food Tour
- SOBE Cocktail Tour
- Wynwood Food Tour
- Little Havana Food Tour
- Private Group Tours
- Wynwood Graffiti Tour
What I also liked about the tour, is that they provided special accommodation for dietary restrictions. So if you are a vegetarian or a non-drinker, just let them know ahead of time and they will do their best to accommodate your needs. For more information on their tours or for any questions, head on over to MiamiCulinaryTours.com.
Also, Mirka was a wonderful guide. She was informative and friendly while still not allowing us to get too off track. She also kept us safe while crossing some of those busy streets and I can tell she loves what she does. I’m now inspired to see if there are these types of tours every time I travel, and even in my area.