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South Beach in Bites | A Culinary and Scenic Tour

October 16, 2013 by Joan Nova in "Foodie" Activities, Florida, Food Tours, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | 11 Comments

South Beach is figuratively much larger than its size. In fact, it’s geographically small — occupying the southern most point of Miami Beach — but it’s huge in the diversity of its people, architecture, and culture!

Architecturally, it’s a mix of the art deco it’s famous for along with new construction and downtrodden pockets of old Miami. You find high-rise penthouses, celebrity mansions on the water, and government-sponsored affordable housing … and lots of hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, tattoo shops and tourist joints. One can dine in a 5 star hotel restaurant and pay $$$$ or venture off the strip for something less expensive, probably ethnic and generally culturally atmospheric.

With South Beach being an internationally diverse community and tourist mecca, everywhere you go you hear English, Haitian, Russian, Hebrew, etc. and, of course, the many dialects of Spanish.

660 at The Anglers

A great way to understand South Beach is to take a Culinary Tour.

Our guide, Mirka, led us on a 3-hour walk through the heart of South Beach narrating the history of its three main streets (Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Washington Street) which run north-south and the picturesque Española Way running one block east-west.

There’s a lot to see along that oceanfront, hotel row and back streets. It’s zen, seedy and úber trendy.

During the tour, the group made 7 stops for food. Our first bite was at 660 at The Anglers Hotel (660 Washington Avenue) where they served a scallop tiradito that was so good, we were encouraged to lift the plate and drink the citrus juice. I did!

Our next stop was at the Colombian restaurant Bolivar (661 Washington Avenue) where we were treated to a very generous serving of patacones (fried green plantain) topped with stewed shredded chicken, as well as their version of empanada and a typical refreshment made with cream soda and beer.

Our next stop was the iconic David’s Cafe (1058 Collins Avenue) for a thimble of Cuban coffee and yuca relleno.

Many Cuban restaurants throughout South Florida have ‘walk up windows’ where you can grab a quick coffee or bite. They’ve also been known as a meeting place for conversation.

Switching gears, our next stop was at Jerry’s Famous Deli (1450 Collins Avenue) for their famous rugelach.

Can you imagine we were already stuffed?
Yes, but we had 3 more stops and lots more to learn about the area.

Interestingly, our group had people visiting from Colombia, Venezuela, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, New Jersey — and there were several locals. We all had lots to learn.

Next up on the tour was a newcomer to the area, Block’s Pizza (1447 Washington Avenue) where the emphasis is on the fresh ingredients and house-made pizza dough that is the base for these ‘pocket sandwiches’.

Charlotte’s Bakery (1499 Washington Avenue) is acclaimed for its Argentine delicacies, chief among them the empanada — served here with an avocado-cilantro sauce.

Our last stop was Milani Gelateria (436 Española Way) where we happened into a street photo shoot which was such fun I forgot to photograph the delicious gelato.

Yes, there’s many opportunities to see skin in South Beach … some not so pretty.

Ciao for now.

More fun photos of the area, people on the tour, and the sights about town.

Also available my post of a Culinary Tour of Little Havana, taken March 2012.

Miami Culinary Tours, 1000 5th Street, Suite 200, Miami Beach, FL 33139



NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. sippitysup says:

    I’d get in a fist fight for good patacones . GREG
    sippitysup recently posted..Apple, Almond and Cardamom Puff Pastry TartMy Profile

  2. bellini says:

    I just love these glimpse into the neighbourhoods around the world and all the cultural food influences.

  3. “lift the plate and drink the citrus juice” love it!

  4. What a treat! I haven’t spent time in Miami for far too long, though I grew up 75 miles away from a far-different Miami of times past. These culinary glimpses are such fun–and they look so tempting.
    Victoria of Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Indian Vegetarian Fast Food at HomeMy Profile

  5. Steve and I have lived in South Florida for 31 years but we have never taken a culinary tour of South Beach. I checked it out and the cost is quite reasonable. When we get back from our vacation to New Mexico and Arizona we will have to take a trip to Miami Beach! Great picture of you-I have the same top and I love it on both of us.

  6. MIRKA HARRIS says:

    Joan , I must say your photos are beautiful. What a pleasure it was to have you on our tour. It is people like you with great passion for food and history that make my job a dream . We hope to see you soon again. Regards from Mirka

  7. How fun and something I know we would enjoy as well. You’ve captured the spirit of South Beach very well Joan. We’ve been several times through the years, even before it was trendy. My first glimpse of SB was what appeared to be a lot of old folks homes with guests sitting around a television in a main room on the first floor. Thank goodness for change! Just wish we had been smart enough to buy some real estate then.

    I’ve made notes, especially about the Angler Hotel with the seafood. We enjoy going to the beach there. Maybe we’ll get over that way this winter and check out some of this fabulous food.
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Ary Jean’s Red Beans and RiceMy Profile

    • Joan Nova says:

      Thanks, Sam. I, too, remember those places. Most of them have been replaced with very trendy and very expensive hotels — but there are still pockets of the old Miami on the side and back streets.

  8. Foodiewife says:

    Your photos are stunning. Wow, what beautiful dishes you got to try. I’ve never been to South Beach, and I’ve always thought I’d feel so “unhip”. I picture beautiful people and nice bodies all over the place…like, um, those girls. Not sure if I’d want my daughter walking around like that, though! It looks like a beautiful day in Paradise. I enjoyed the tour very much.

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