How many times can you visit the same “attraction” or take the same tour? If you’re talking about the South Beach Food Tour offered by Miami Food Tours, the answer is three times (to date). This tour is known as the SoBe Tours de Forks and I first went on it February of 2013. I enjoyed it so much that when I returned in December of that same year, I took it again.
Fast forward to July 2016 and you are reading this – a relatively new venture for me. I found myself in Miami again visiting my parents, and I wanted to write about this tour that I enjoyed so much but….yes, you guessed it. No notes and no photographs. I reached out to Miami Food Tours and they gladly invited me along (THANK YOU!)
I like walking tours. I like exploring towns on foot. I like food. I take that back, I love food. This tour combines those things with the beautiful architecture of South Beach’s art deco district as the backdrop. Add wonderful commentary on the history of Miami Beach, the art deco district, and good insight on the evolution of the food you enjoy and you can easily see why this is the third time I do this tour.
Let’s start with the setting – Miami Beach’s South Beach art deco district. You start off your tour at the Cafe at Books & Books on Lincoln Road – the pedestrian only shopping and entertainment area that has been around since the 1920s. I recommend you get there early so you can browse through the fabulous book store in the back. Quite an impressive selection of local and art books – definitely well worth the extra time (give yourself 30 minutes or so!) Also allocate a bit of time at the end to just enjoy Lincoln Road.
At the cafe, I met Sam our tour guide and the other two who were part of my tour, Kaitlyn and Mary Ann. Sam started telling us a bit about the history of Books & Books, which started in 1982, while we wait for our first food tasting. This first tasting consisted of what Sam called the South Beach Sampler and it consisted of fried yuca, homemade hummus with chips, avocado salsa with chips, and a corn salad. This sampler is refreshing and delicious and gets you started for the day.
As we walked along Lincoln Road toward our next stop, Sam filled us in on a bit of history. He stepped us through the history of the rise, fall, and rise of Miami Beach, how Lincoln Road came to be, and the history of the main contributors to this area: Carl Fisher and Henry Flagler.
The next stop was at Bella Cuba Restaurant where we enjoyed some Cuban guava and cheese pastries with some Cuban coffee. Not much I can say about this aside from PURE deliciousness!
After getting fully caffeinated with Cuban coffee, we walked down to our next stop: Chalan on The Beach, a Peruvian restaurant that opened at this location in 1997. Here we enjoyed a combination Peruvian style ceviche that included shrimp and sea bass along served with two types of Peruvian corn and some of the sweetest sweet potatoes I’ve ever had. The other dish was lomo saltado – a Peruvian specialty of sauteed flap meat mixed with onions, tomatoes, and french fries with a side of white rice. The ceviche was absolutely delicious, fresh and just the right amount of citrus flavor to it. The lomo saltado was very tender and perfectly seasoned. Sam explained that it is marinated in a combination of soy sauce and white wine – and you could tell.
On the the next stop which was Charlotte Bakery – a family owned and operated bakery that opened back in 1996. They serve a variety of pastries from many different regions and we tried the tequeno – a Venezuelan white cheese savory pastry that we dipped in a somewhat mild green sauce. I love pastries so I had to walk around and take a look at what else they had to offer – I know I’ll be stopping by here again on my next visit!
Our last stop was The Frieze Ice Cream Factory for some DELICIOUS ice cream. This is where I must confess – I love just plain vanilla ice cream. Or I like to try far out flavors and there was one that caught my eye. They offered me a taste and it was love at first try. Yes, there was something about a white chocolate, salted caramel, and peanut butter chips ice cream that just seemed – well, a bit decadent and delicious. It was both. Wow! Pure heaven.
Sam offered some insight on The Frieze, the history of the paintings, and asked if we needed any further information on anything or next things to do. He was a great host and guide and we said our farewells at this point.
I want to thank Miami Food Tours for having me along on this tour. While I was their guest on this occasion, the previous two were actually purchased tours and I guarantee you that this review is 100% my opinion. Heck, three times, it should be good! Just a side note, the first two times, we visited the same restaurants but this time two of the restaurants (Bella Cuba and Charlotte Bakery) were replacements. Bella Cuba was a replacement for one that had closed and it was a welcome change (the pastries were larger and it was a sit down instead of a window service) and Charlotte Bakery was actually more enjoyable than the previous Brazilian place that was used. I like that they’re always looking to improve this tour.
To book your tour, head over to their site. They offer other tours that I will have to try in the future, including one in the Wynwood Arts District that would be a great combination of food and art. You can see my articles on that neighborhood by clicking here!!