Monday, September 24, 2012

Miami Culinary Tours - South Beach Food Tour

Enjoying the Art Deco District 
Did you know that back in the day architects designed "brows" on the buildings in South Beach to keep the sun's heat out? What about the reason why there are arrows pointing in a single direction on the floor of the Essex Hotel? It's funny how you can live in a place all your life and not really know all there is to know about it. That is one of the cool things I absolutely loved about Miami Culinary Tours - South Beach Tour.  I found myself utterly surprised and pleasantly intrigued as I ate my way through the Art-Deco District of Miami Beach in this fun-filled, mouth-watering tour.

So much history behind the decor
Miami Culinary Tours was born out of a passion for food and a desire to share that passion. It's founder, Grace Della, came up with the idea about 10 years ago as she was having a heart-to-heart conversation with her mother about food, cooking, cultures and people. Since then, Miami Culinary Tours has evolved into a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike; offering a taste into the different flavors and cultures that make Miami the attractive culinary melting pot it is.

Natalie Fong, Our Tour Guide
Every tour is different and the stops can change depending on what is fresh at the moment, restaurant availability and what the chefs and cooks are creating on that particular week. When we arrived at our meeting point, Natalie, our friendly tour guide, was there to greet us. She encouraged us to mingle while we waited for the rest of the participants. I have to say the cohesiveness of our group was perfect from the beginning. An interesting aspect of these tours is that aside from interacting with locals who want a new perspective on the dining scene or are perhaps celebrating a special occasion, you also get the opportunity to meet so many visitors to the Miami area. Our new friends included people from Manchester in Britain, Brisbane in Australia,the Dominican Republic, Italy and a local couple celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary.

Getting to know each other

From start to finish, the South Beach tour was about 1 mile long and took approximately 3 hours. Altogether, we made 7 stops, ranging from generous sit down meals and on-the-go bites, to a Cuban "colada" fix at a local eatery.

Take a look at some of the highlights from our tour and see why Miami Culinary Tours has received national and international recognition from travelers and local foodies alike. Since I think its much more fun to leave the stops a surprise, I'll just give you a bit of information on the locales we visited as well as share some of the foodporn with you.

Cheers with Refrajo

Cold Gazpacho
Artisanal Colombian Cuisine
The evening started at a popular restaurant inside a luxury boutique resort reminiscent of old Florida. Offering Nuevo Latino Cuisine, we got to sample a shot of a Cold Gazpacho that was both creamy as well as refreshing. From there, we hopped on over to a fabulous spot, whose rustic yet trendy decor was an eye-catcher from the start. Exemplifying the Miami/SoBe vibe, it unites a combination of South American flavors to bring an exotic fusion of Colombian, Peruvian and Venezuelan cuisine. We were treated to a sampling of different Artisanal bites: a golden meat empanada filled with bold flavors, a "patacon" consisting of  shredded chicken and cheese sitting atop a crunchy plantain, and a white corn grilled arepa topped with a delicious homemade sauce. We enjoyed this sampler with a Refrajo; a refreshing cocktail made with Aguila beer and Colombian soda.

The Chef, detailed as always, came to say hi to the group and describe the dishes

A Taste of Cuba
"Cafecito" Time
As we made our way to our next stop, we learned a lot of fun facts about the area;  its history,  its culture, and the beautiful architecture that makes South Beach such a visited hotspot.  I was excited to learn that the next location on our tour was a Cuban favorite of mine.  We sat down amidst the live entertainment and the breathtaking murals and enjoyed our exceptional meal: Ropa Vieja, Moros and Maduritos (Shredded Beef Flank Steak in a captivating sauce, Mixed Black Beans and Rice and Sweet Plantains). And of course, it wouldn't be complete without the warm, fresh baked bread that is such a special part of this place. Feeling nice and satisfied, we continued our walk through Ocean Drive, enjoying all the facts. In true Latin fashion, we stopped at a "cafeteria" and ordered a "Colada" to share; a Cuban expresso shot. Perfect complement to the delicious Cuban meal we had just indulged in.

A little bit of the Czech Republic on Ocean Drive

Amuse Bouche
Liquid Nitrogen Ice-Cream
The culinary fun wasn't over just yet although you're probably thinking, "More food?" The answer is yes. There were still a few more surprises in the mix. We strolled some more, had a near-death experience with a coconut which I'm sure we will all remember with a chuckle, and headed over to a relatively new place on Ocean Drive. Introducing modern European cuisine which features complex molecular gastronomy, this chic and upscale restaurant provides an exhilarating experience from the moment you walk in. First, we were treated to an "Amuse-Bouche", (literally translated to mouth amuser); a single bite-sized hors d'oeuvre that was an explosion of flavors to the palate. It was a small roll of salmon, stuffed baby carrot, melon sauce and a sprinkle of salad. As if we weren't impressed enough, they also prepared some Liquid Nitrogen Ice-Cream right in front of us, which made us practically jump for joy with anticipation. Only two places in the beach serve this sweet treat.

Oh boy! More Sweets
Gelato Dreams

For the last two stops, we continued on the Dessert Trail; sampling some more culinary culture.  We visited a casual location that's become quite the institution on South Beach in the ten years it's been there.  Originally from Israel, its owner started his first restaurant in 1978, and they are open for business 24 hours a day.  Here, we sampled some traditional sweets and then moved on to our final stop of the evening: Italian Gelato. Offering a huge selection of flavors, we had trouble picking just one. It was a great ending to a memorable night!

Decisions Decisions

If this is what Grace envisioned as she sat in her mother's kitchen, and began her journey to creating culinary tours that would provide everything from delicious cuisine, to a fine cultural experience, she hit it right on the nail. Besides the South Beach Tour, there is also a Little Havana Tour, and a couple of City Tours (on a bus). If you prefer, you can also request a Private Tour. For more information, visit Miami Culinary Tours online at


  1. Hi, I had checked your link. This is very interesting. Miami restaurants are renowned for their ability to artfully combine fabulous food with even more fabulous atmosphere. Miami Culinary Tours not only invite you to taste bits and pieces of some of Miami’s most delicious food but they also offer tours which take you on a guided cultural experience through some of Miami’s most popular areas. Thanks..

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  2. I am a food tour fanatic, have done them in New York, Boston, San Francisco, and I have to say that Miami food tours are my favorite. A great way to spend a day off the beach.

  3. Hi,

    The theme of your blog is very beautiful and the article is written very well. A cold Gazpacho soup can be made with other items that you might have available. You could add some cooked and peeled shrimp or maybe some lump crab meat. Thanks..

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  4.'s fantastic blog. i like this post. Miami City is an exciting place to visit with some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.