During my vacation in Miami, I wanted to more than just your typical beach and party routine. After seeking out some recommendations from my new friends from Sunrise, Florida, my friend and I decided to take a food tour with Miami Culinary Tours. They had a few tour options, but decided the Little Havana Food tour, would give us a new cultural tour in addition to some yummy Cuban Food!
Stop 1 - El Pub Restaurant
Stop 1 of the food tour was at El Pub restaurant, they are best known for their beef empanadas & coffee, which exactly what we had and a great way to start the tour! For those of you who do not know, an empanada is basically dough filled with something, such as beef. Variations of empanadas exist in many different cultures, such as calzones and dumplings. I also learned about the "colada," which is a Cuban coffee that is mean to be shared (you should not have a full cup, but rather a small little shot, the size of a creamer).
Stop 2 - Cuba Tobacco Cigar Co.
Next we headed to the Cuba Tobacco Cigar Factory, where we learned how cigars were made and got to see it first hand. Fun Fact - The owner of this factory was actually imprisoned for 20 years prior to starting this factory and was sitting on the couch in the front of the store.
Stop 3 - Domino Park
Domino Park is where all of the seniors go to play, you guessed it... dominos! The park is a social club and the place to be during teh day for dominos and chess (but gambling is not allowed). Don’t forget to bring your ID, because they will card you!
Stop 4 - Old's Havana
We then headed lunch at Old Havana, where we had a delicious Cuban sandwich & croquette. A cuban sandwich consists of pernil (one of my favorites!), ham, pickle and cheese, croquettes are basically fried sticks of food, usually consisting of potato.
Stop 5 - Ball & Chain
We migrated to some live Latin music at Ball & Chain for some refreshing mojitos! Ball & Chain is definitely one of the most lively places in Little Havana, with a fantastic live band in the front of the restaurant and a pineapple theme! They also have a nice little patio area in the back, this may have been my favorite spot on the tour - I will definitely be back next time I am in Little Havana!
Stop 6 - Yisell Bakery
On to Yisell Bakery for some guava filled pastries (pastelitos). This little hole in the wall bakery, looked kind of small and run down, but had some great pastries, bread and was very busy with locals. The bakery was crowded in the middle of the day while we were there, which says a lot about a place.
Stop 7 - Los Pinarenos Fruteria
This fruit stand has a variety of fruits that you would not find at your local grocery store, here you can find giant avocados, green plantains, lady fingers (baby bananas), dragon fruit, star fruit and fresh mangos to name a few! Here we had a very fresh mango smoothie, which you could tell was made right on the spot, I could definitely use another one in this heat!
Fun Fact: this is one of the only open air fruit stands left standing AND was featured in some movies.
Stop 8 - Azucar
Time for dessert! For the final stop of the tour we headed to Azucar for some mantecado ICE CREAM topped with guava syrup! This shop was created by a local who saw the need to create a place for tourists to enjoy the local culture, thus Azucar was born!
Along the tour, we saw many roosters, both statues and real ones, very depicting of islands in general.
Needless to say my friend and I were STUFFED by the end of this tour. I would definitely recommend taking this tour if you want to learn about the culture, while stuffing your face!