TRAVEL // Eating in South Beach, Miami

Like its architecture, Miami’s diverse population is reflected in its cuisine. It has a heavy Cuban influence— I had heard a lot about the Cuban sandwiches and Cuban espresso, and read that Little Havana is a neighborhood rich in history and culture. Miami also has a heavy Caribbean influence and other Latin American cuisine. Clearly, a buffet of food for someone like me to sample!

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One of the restaurants we frequented was Puerto Sagua, a no-frills, diner-esque comfort food restaurant right in the heart of South Beach… and also right next door to our airbnb. As a result, I probably ate here three times within the four days I was here. Fortunately, the menu is pretty extensive and I was able to try something new every single time. First thing, Cafe con Leche, the Cuban coffee! Creamy and rich, it provides a sweet kick. We started to ask for less sweet in our coffee, which made it perfect.

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Of course, I had to try the Cuban sandwich. This simple, unassuming little sandwich is cheesy goodness. I would’ve liked a little bit more mustard or something to cut through the thick cheese.

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One of my favorites from Puerto Sagua was their oxtail. Huge portions, steeped in flavor, this oxtail is definitely a must-try.

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You may have also seen on Instagram that we also went on a food tour. It was definitely a fun activity for large groups. We sampled six different dishes from six different restaurants and were STUFFED afterwards. Our guide was amazing and also gave us a mini history lesson while we walked from place to place. In total, we walked about a mile, which was really good for digestion after each dish. We went to Boliva first, where we had an amazing Colombian empanada that was made with a cornmeal crust and stuffed with beef and smoked potato. On the side, there was a Peruvian ceviche with passion fruit, cilantro, red onions, and canchita with a spicy ahi dip.

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I would say that the cornmeal empanada was probably the most loved dish on the whole food tour by the group.

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Next up, another empanada from Naked Taco. I loved the chipotle chicken empanada’s filling, but have to say the crispy skin on the Bolivar empanada was a little better. If I could combine the two it would be perfection.

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Then we headed to The Tides, a swanky Kelly Wearstler-designed hotel right across from the beach. There, we sampled a spiced chicken curry with Israeli couscous. This was the heartiest dish and could’ve done with a little more spice or a bit of a kick, but tasty nonetheless.

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The second to last dish was a sun dried tomato, feta, and basil pizza sandwich from Blocks Pizza Deli. Known for their “mother dough”, their pizza is served in blocks or squares, rather than traditional slices. It’s one of our tour guide’s favorite places to eat in Miami and I can see why.

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Last but not least, we had to make a gelato pit stop! We stopped by Espanola Way to pick up a scoop of creamy gelato in the tiniest ice cream cone ever.

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On Sunday, we also took a different route and got something a little fresher and healthier at Under the Mango Tree. It’s a little vegan gem in Miami, and reminded me a bit of a small cafe in Berkeley. They are all about natural food, juices, fresh acai bowls, and even have a little store where you can buy natural beauty products in the back.

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Loved all their acai bowls, especially the chocolate one! And if you’re in the mood for something a little more indulgent, try their vegan grilled cheese. Delicious!

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