$59 per person
First and foremost I want to say that Jennifer and I were VERY excited about going on this tour. I mean, a tour that revolves around food, who wouldn’t be excited? We were so excited that we were willing to venture out of our comfort zone – namely, Broward County – to experience it. Man was it worth it! The food, the various hotels and restaurants, our wonderful guide, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s start with the parking. That had to be the worst thing that we experienced on the whole trip. Keeping in mind that “The Black Pearl” (aka Jennifer’s Ford F150) was not made for South Beach. We had to park about 5-6 blocks from where the tour began. We parked in a parking garage that cost $15 for all day. There is cheaper parking closer to where the tour begins (for people with smaller vehicles). So, our advice? Arrive early (in a small car with a GPS) with enough time to find parking! Now, on to the food!
D. Rodriguez Cuba @ The Astor Hotel
This was the first restaurant that we tasted. Talk about starting the tour off with a bang too! The dishes are (from left to right) panco steak, pulled chicken on yucca flat bread and a crab empanada. Let’s start with the steak; perfectly cooked, extremely tender and juicy. The panco breading was light and added a slight crunch and there was a glaze that was almost citrus tasting. Next, is the pulled chicken; again, very good. The chicken was almost BBQ-like, a little spicy and very tender. Of course, us not really being into onions, there were a little too much in there, but that’s simply personal preference. And finally we move on to the crab empanada – by far Jennifer’s favorite. It was extremely flavorful, fried perfectly and accented just right with the dill sauce.
La Marea @ The Tides Hotel
Our second stop on the tour was the Tides Hotel. We were thankful to arrive, as it had started to rain. We first had to make a pit stop in the bathroom so that we could dry off before we ate. On a side note here – the bathrooms? In one word, wow! Clean, beautifully decorated and the sinks had none of the water puddles that you typically see in a hotel or restaurant bathroom. Very impressive. Now, we started off with a light beverage – a peach and guava juice drink (non-alcoholic, Jennifer is not happy). It was extremely refreshing and light. Neither the peach or the guava juice was overpowering. The dishes that we were served (from left to right) was Banana Leaf wrapped Yellow Tail Snapper and Coctel de Camarones. Let’s start with the shrimp – O. M. G. This was the best shrimp cocktail that we had eaten. The sauce was to die for! It tasted like a perfectly made bloody mary (minus the vodka). Not too spicy, but not flavorless either. The only downside of the dish was that the shrimp and the cracker weren’t enough to sop up all that delicious sauce and we didn’t think it was appropriate to stick our straw in the sauce in front of strangers. The yellow tail was good, however it now seems almost forgettable when compared to the shrimp. It was nicely seasoned and was served on a bed of rice.
BLT Steakhouse @ The Betsy Hotel
The sliders that were served at The Betsy Hotel were very good. I would have to say that they tasted like a really good burger – juicy, tender, perfectly cooked and the bacon was very smoky and crispy. Our tour guide, Grace, said that even though the BLT Steakhouse is just that – a steakhouse – they had excellent fish dishes. Personally, I would have liked to see one of those dishes or a small tasting of steak. In all, I think this was the most forgettable dish, which was disappointing since The Betsy Hotel was by far Jennifer and I’s favorite hotel that we saw.
We went to several places for dessert, however these were “grab and go” bites, meaning, we didn’t stop to sit and relax. We had almond bites from Jerry’s Famous Deli, coffee and dulce de leche cookies and finally we stopped at Milani Gelateria for some gelato. All the desserts were fabulous, but by far the gelato stole the show with it’s creamy, light texture and flavor. The tour ended at the gelateria and we said our good byes to our group and our guide Grace.
This food tour was well worth the drive and adventure out of Broward County. Grace Della was a wonderful host and assured that everyone had a great experience. She is well versed in the history of Miami and brought her passion for the city and it’s food to everyone in our group. She also runs a Little Havana tour and is in the works to bring her tour to Ft. Lauderdale. I’m sure that both are and will be awesome – and of course Everyday Eaters will be there to judge for you! The South Beach tour was well worth the $59. A word of advice for those who want to try this out. Wear comfortable shoes, as this is a walking tour and be sure to bring an umbrella no matter how sunny it looks when you leave the car.
Some final thoughts from Jennifer… I thought this tour was first class. Every restaurant served us on glass ware with cloth napkins. Quite frankly I was expecting tiny paper plates, tooth picks and cocktail napkins. At most of the restaurants the Chef came out to greet us and explain his/her dishes (I was impressed by this!). Every restaurant had special seating waiting for the tour group. Some times we were in the main dining area and others we were in small lounges or VIP areas, all were air conditioned and all were beautiful. Most of the restaurants were located inside hotels. So, you actually got to walk through the hotels and sometimes up to the roof tops before eating. I loved this! You just can’t imagine how some of these hotels are decorated…All were gorgeous inside. This tour is mostly about the food but Grace does a fantastic job of pointing out history and architecture along the way. Our tour consisted of 14 people this day and Grace had given us all small, wrapped gifts of coffee. Earlier in the day Grace raffled off a bottle of rare olive oil and Melissa won it (WooHoo!). In closing I just want to say this tour is worth the drive, the money and the parking!
If any one reads about the tour here and actually goes please tell Grace that Jennifer and Melissa said hi!
Have any of you out there been on this tour? If so, tell us about your experience.