By Melanie Garcia
Being a Miami native means being exposed to a myriad of cultures and their corresponding cuisines. Accessibility to food from around the globe is at every corner, with authenticity at its core. But rare is the opportunity in which you’ll experience a food tour, nonetheless of your own city, that leaves your palette pleased and your appetite fully satisfied.
That was the case for Great Food List when we embarked on a tour de force of the Magic City led by Miami Culinary Tours. With a tour guide that was gracious, funny, insightful and entirely entertaining, we launched our 2 ½ hour South Beach food tour for a dinner on the go.
The walking food tour is perfect for both tourists and residents who are in search of a wide range of restaurants, from affordable, local joints to fancy gastronomy. We had a total of seven small meals along the way, but some of the most memorable stops included Bolivar Restaurant and Lounge, a Colombian restaurant that served empanadas and arepas (both made from ground corn dough) with spicy chimichurri (herb sauce.) The corn pastries were crunchy and bursting with delicious foreign flavors and textures. Bolivar was also where we enjoyed a nice cold Aguila (Colombian beer) mixed with a Colombiana (an authentic Colombian soda.)
Lario’s, Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Cuban restaurant, was also a favorite on our tour. There, we enjoyed what everyone in Miami must indulge in while visiting – sweet plantains, congri (rice and beans) and picadillo (ground beef.) The food was as good as if we’d eaten at Abuela’s house. It felt like we were eating a homemade meal, seasoned perfectly, juicy with rich black bean flavors and an endless bowl of mojito (Cuban garlic marinade) to spice things up.
We also had what we called the re-energizer stop, where we had some authentic Cuban coffee waiting for us at the iconic David’s Café. It was quite the sight to see tourists sipping on cafecito, walking with some gained speed shortly thereafter.
As you walk along the famed streets of South Beach, the tour guide will give you all sorts of cool historic information, ranging from Art Deco architecture to celebrity tidbits, that even natives can learn from.
The tour also offers an interactive experience when you visit Miami Beach Café & Restaurant. A resident chef gives a live demonstration of molecular cuisine and right in front of you makes the sorbet that you enjoy seconds later. We had a strawberry flavored sorbet that was fresh and thirst quenching.
However, it was the last stop that was the most refreshing of all. Having indulged for what seemed like hours on end, we enjoyed a perfectly sized gelato at Milani Gelateria located on the beautiful Española Way. We chose the Pistachio flavor gelato (which we learned is a favorite) and quickly understood why Milani Gelateria was awarded “Best Gelato in Miami” by The New Times.
The timing of the food was impeccable. All the restaurants had the food ready upon our arrival; all of our plates arrived hot and tasty and the service at all locations was just as warm and inviting. Miami Culinary Food Tours offers a total of five different tours across Miami’s most authentic and restaurant-friendly neighborhoods. The tour’s cost $59 per person (tax and an alcoholic beverage included.) Additional tips for the tour guide are encouraged.
Miami Culinary Tours
1000 5th Street, Suite 200
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Local Tel: 786-942-8856
Additional details Miami Culinary Food Tours:
LUNCH TOUR: Daily at 12:00 pm
DINNER TOUR: Daily at 6:00 pm
FOOD STOPS: 7-8 food stops with tastings at each location.
MEETING POINT: Near Ocean Drive
DURATION: 2 1/2 hours
WALKING DISTANCE: Approximately 1-hour