This past weekend I was lucky enough to find myself at South Beach for another culinary tour by Miami Culinary Tours.  I had a great time on the Wynwood Tour, and the South Beach Tour did not let me down either.
Our first stop and meet up location was at Bolivar Restaurant on Washington Avenue.  Our tour guide Elizabeth was waiting outside to greet everyone with energy and a big smile.
As we waited for the rest of the tour participants to arrive, we were quickly served a delicious drink called Refajo.  It is made from a combination of Aguila beer and a cream Colombian soda.  It was so tasty! I can probably compare the flavor to pink champagne.  It was bubbly and sweet with a tiny taste of alcohol.

Once everyone arrived, we were seated and served our first meal.  It was plate with a beef and potato empanada, a spicy jalapeno dip, and Peruvian passion fruit ceviche.  Although, I’m a local and Hispanic, I have never actually tried ceviche.  Oh my god!  It was so flavorful.  How have I been living in Miami with out ever trying it?  Well this one in particular was great.  It had fresh red onions, cilantro, lime, passion fruit juice and sway fish.  The spiciness of the empanada, dip, and the ceviche was delightful.  To top things off, we were given a shot of Colombian aguardiente.  I thought it was similar in flavor to maybe a shot of Jager since it always reminds me of black licorice.



The restaurant itself was very nice, with a large bar area, lounge area and restaurant style tables.  At the far end there was even a small stage for a band to play.  Bolivar has a nice lounge feel during the day, but I bet has a cool playful feel at night with live music.

Once we were done with our first meal, we took a short walk to Ocean Drive to our next stop, Lario’s On The Beach, a Cuban cuisine restaurant. Elizabeth let us know some background on the restaurant.  It is own by the famous singer Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio.  It was recently renovated, and much of the details were decided by Emilio.  It is truly a unique and elegantly designed restaurant.

Once we were seated we were served our main dish of Ropa Vieja and Mariquitas with a mojo dipping sauce.  Ropa Vieja literally translates to old clothes.  It is a shredded beef in a marinade and mariquitas are fried green plantains, or plantain chips.  Being a local, I have had this dish many times.  But I have to say it was very delicious, probably the best I have yet to try.  It may have been the mojo dip which added an extra flavor to the Ropa Vieja and plantain chips.  As a side dish we were given chicken croquetas and Sangria to compliment our meal.




This sculpture was made from instruments donated by other celebrity musicians.
Our group waiting to be served. Check out that picture of Emilio.



After our meal, we took a walk further down Ocean Drive and we stopped to talk and admire all the great Art Deco architecture South Beach is known for.  Elizabeth gave us some more history behind the architecture and South Beach in general.


After a brisk walk we were at our next stop, The Tides.  The Tides has a restaurant and bar located at the lobby of the hotel.  The decor in the hotel was beautiful.  It had huge art deco lamps, fancy leather chairs with canopy’s, it even had large art pieces temporarily on display.  Once we were all seated, Elizabeth detailed some of the ingredients we were about to sample in our next meal.  She even passed around some of the spices to smell.  We were eventually served a bright dish of delicious curry chicken and Israeli couscous. The couscous tasted very similar to pasta and the sauce had an almost cheesy flavor.  It was a unique dish made especially for our tour and it was delectable.  We were offered a choice of Italian Ponot Grigio or Chilean Malbec for our beverage.  I chose the Ponot Grigio and it was nice and light.  It balanced the spices of the meal.



Hi!  This is me and the cool turtle shell molds above the bar.


We took a short stroll to our next destination and passed through ZOcean Hotel.  This Hotel had the coolest decor in it’s lounge area.  The ceiling had peekaboo panels looking straight through the pool above and there was a large chess game and dominos to play with.  It looked like a nice spot to hang out night by their bar.

ZOcean Hotel’s lounge seemed like a nice chill spot.
After we cut through the hotel we reached our destination at Block’s Pizza Deli.  They served us a vegetarian dish this time, it was a pita sanwich called a Panouzzo with spinach, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and homemade pesto.  I’m not usually into eating vegetable dishes, but this was such a flavorful sandwich.  I thought it was a great choice instead of one of their pizza’s. Although their pizzas looked yummy and ready to be popped into the oven.  I can’t wait to come back and try them.


For our final stop we walked just a few more feet to Espaniola Way.  It is a small block of Spanish style buildings and store fronts.  It is such a cute section of town.  We went to Miami Gelateria for some delicious gelato.  We had our choice of several flavors displayed on a spinning carousel of ice cream.  I chose Tiramisu.  It was excellent, not to sweet, smooth, and chunks of tiramisu with a light coffee flavor.  The Gelateria had the cutest ice cream shaped tables and chairs outside.  It was a nice way to end the tour.  What a lovely day.



I would recommend the tour to anyone being local or not.  As a local, I have never actually been to any of these places.  It is always a treat to do something new and learn new things about a place you have lived in for years.  I can imagine it being even more of a treat as a tourist.  Not to mention how nice everyone you meet on the tour is.  So check out the South Beach food tour. Miami Culinary Tours has several tours, so I can’t wait to go on the Little Havana tour next.