Last weekend, I got to go on a food tour of Little Havana! Although I grew up in Miami, I wasn’t very familiar with Little Havana or what they had to offer. So when I decided to go on a food tour with Miami Culinary Tours, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
Miami Culinary Tours offers food tours in South Beach, Wynwood, Little Havana and around the City of Miami. I chose to go with Little Havana since I wanted to learn more of the culture and of course eat some delicious Cuban food.
Finding parking in Little Havana can be quite difficult since this place seems to be packed during the weekends, but it wasn’t impossible. I was able to find parking right next to the McDonald’s, right behind Domino Park. Once I made my way over to the tour guide and group, we began our tour.
The tour began at 11:30 A.M. and for the next two hours, we were going to try foods from different locations in Little Havana. I was a bit nervous to go on the tour since I was going by myself, but after finding out that there were other ladies on their own, I felt relieved. I was also able to get to know these ladies as we tried different food together.
First Food Stop: El Pub Restaurant
The first stop we made was in El Pub Restaurant. Here we enjoyed a beef empanada, which is a fried pastry stuffed with picadillo.
Aside from the empanada, we also enjoyed Cafe Cubano, which is an espresso shot that is sweetened with sugar. Like most locals in Little Havana, we enjoyed the Cafe Cubano outside the restaurant by the take-out window (la ventanita).
Mini Stop: The Cigar Factory
Aside from making stops at restaurants, we did make stops along the way. The first non-food stop was the Cigar Factory. Here we learned about the different types of cigars and how they are made. It was very interesting to see the process and what it takes to make a cigar.
Second Food Stop: Ball and Chain
Our second stop was the Ball and Chain. Here, we got the opportunity to sit outside near the pineapple stage. This beautiful location had live music and wonderful decorations that went along with the restaurant’s name.
From ball and chain door handles to bird cages hanging from the ceiling, I found myself taking photos of every piece of decoration in this restaurant.
Here, we had a Mojito, which is a traditional Cuban cocktail. This drink usually consists of white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint. I thought I wouldn’t like the Mojito, since I’m not a huge fan of mint, but I was wrong. This drink wasn’t minty, it was refreshing and delightful. Definitely a drink to have during warm weather.
Mini Stop: Domino Park
One really cool thing about Little Havana is that there is a whole area for Domino players. This is where everyone around 50 and older gets to play Dominoes. Unfortunately for me, I would not be able to join due to the fact that there is an age restriction, so anyone younger than 50+ cannot play.
Third Food Stop: Old Havana Restaurant
This restaurant was a bit smaller than the Ball and Chain, but like the Ball and Chain, they had a beautiful patio where we all sat down to eat. At this stop, we first enjoyed a chicken croqueta (croquette) and what many of my friends’ love, the Cubano sandwich.
This sandwich is made with Cuban bread, ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. I’m also not a huge fan of pickles, but I will definitely eat them with this sandwich. This is a sandwich with a lot of flavor and the mix of ingredients makes this a delectable sandwich.
Fourth Food Stop: Yisell Bakery
After having some delicious food, we made our way to Yisell Bakery. I am a lover of all desserts, so when we received our Guava pastelito, I was ecstatic. Guava is a tropical fruit that is enjoyed in many Latin American countries, so it makes sense to make a puff pastry out of them. Not only is the fruit itself good, but the pastry is absolutely delicious. They also have other variations that include cheese inside, which is absolutely my favorite kind of pastry.
Fifth Food Stop: Los Pinarenos Fruteria
After having a delightful pastry, we made a stop at Los Pinarenos Fruteria, which is a fruit store. Here they make different types of juices and you can also find some common Latin American fruit. The drink that we tried was the Guarapo juice, which is a sugarcane juice. This pleasant drink was not too sweet, as one would think upon hearing that it comes from a sugarcane.
Mini Stop: Cuban Memorial Monument
While making our way to our next stop, we made a quick stop at this monument, which is dedicated to the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Right behind the monument are flags of both Cuba and America. What I loved about this part of the tour was learning about the history, especially learning about the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
Sixth Food Stop: Azucar Ice Cream
Our sixth stop was even tastier than the last. This stop was to the Azucar Ice Cream, which reminds me of Celia Cruz, who would often say ‘Azucar!’ This place had all sorts of flavors, but the one that we got to try is the sweet mantecado, which is Cuban vanilla.
So what exactly makes this ice cream a Cuban classic? Well the ingredients. The mantecado has vanilla ice cream mixed with ruby red guava, rich cream cheese and crispy, sweet galletas. After having tried such a delightful ice cream, I now know what I want the next time I’m in Miami.
The tour with Miami Culinary Tours was incredible. For two hours, I learned so much about an area of Miami that I had passed by so many times. I tried delicious food, I got to see how cigars are made, I got to see people play dominoes, I hung out with an amazing group of people and I had a tour guide who showed great passion for the culture and community.
After that tour, I definitely did not want to drive four hours back to my home, especially since there were still a lot of places left to visit in Little Havana. The good thing is that I am always visiting Miami, so I will definitely end up in Little Havana when I do go back to visit.
If you like everything you see here and would love to try their food tours, please visit their website for more information.
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Disclaimer: During my trip to Miami, I was provided with a complimentary tour of Little Havana with Miami Culinary Tours, but as always all opinions are my own and I promise that this tour is incredible!