Primed with over 10 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Argentine native Grace Della launched Miami Culinary Tours in 2010, a company that offers guided walking tours with stops at typical restaurants. The unique insider’s adventures provide food lovers an opportunity to sample a wide array of savory ethnic fare and explore South Florida’s culture in all of its forms. “Miami Culinary Tours is driven by passion and good taste and dedicated to introducing great food to foodies from all over,” states its founder, who calls Miami home since 2002. “We offer a holistic experience because food just isn’t about taste but context; so, we incorporate history and architecture on our guided tours,” underlines Della. With an itinerary of seven to eight stops stretching two and a half hours, the tour “incorporates as many different dishes as possible in order to really delve into the melting pot that we have in Miami,” she explains.
While brandishing a strong Latin American influence, Miami Culinary Tours’ stops showcase the full range of the local gastronomic landscape with such staples as Colombian empanadas, Peruvian tiraditos, Italian pasta, and Cuban coffee. Among the exotic dishes that guests will enjoy are the “patacon” served at Bolivar Restaurant and Lounge and which consists of shredded chicken perched upon a crispy fried and flattened plantain served with a spicy Colombian sauce that is prepared with jalapeño peppers. Another mouthwatering dish, points out Della, is award-winning restaurant 660 at The Angler’s “tiradito” or cured fish marinated in a variety of citrus juices, thus bestowing a tangy flavor on the dish. “Tiradito is different from ceviche because of the way it is cut. Ceviche is made with chunks of fish whereas tiradito is, like sashimi, made by thinly slicing the fish,” she explains. At Jerry’s Famous Deli, guests can sample the “raspberry rugalah”, which Della describes as a “Jewish pastry that is visually appealing because it is rolled up, thus giving it a swirl of golden dough and bright fruit filling.” Among the gourmet restaurants and hole-in-the-wall delights that the company showcases are David’s Café, which Della dubs “a beloved local spot for over 30 years”. “During the tour, we order from the ventania to sip on cortaditos in staple styrofoam cups they way everyone else does,” she explains. Barely seating 15 patrons and top-ranked by the Food Network for its empanadas, Charlotte Bakery is another attraction on the tour. Given advance notice, Miami Culinary Tours can accommodate most food restrictions. “However, those with dietary needs may have to miss out on a tasting or two. Gluten-free is the most difficult restriction to accommodate,” notes Della.
Citing her mother as an immense inspiration, Della points out that “her passion for cooking, love of people and skills as an educator gave me the idea to start a food tour that she could run in her own hometown.” “I remember as a little girl that the happiest times at home were when my mom would cook, the family would come around and everyone would share stories around the table,” she recalls. Surrounding herself with devotees, Della undertook to implement the idea which manifested itself as Miami Culinary Tour’s first excursion, ‘Cuban-Inspired Food Tour’, “back when nobody had ever heard of food tours in Miami.”
Accommodating a maximum of 16 guests, Miami Culinary Tours’ walking escapades are conducted in English. Della, who handpicks the restaurants and conducts the company’s daily operations, is assisted by four culinary guides who lead the tour by narrating Miami’s history and describing to guests the diverse cuisines to be sampled. “We have carefully chosen each stop to ensure the quality of the food and the experience; however, occasionally we add a stop or make a modification to keep guests’ palates intrigued and maintain our promise of great food that is representative of Miami’s culture,” she explains. “Our guides are responsible for checking in with the restaurants prior to the tour and keeping in contact with them as the tour progresses to make sure everything is ready and timely for guests,” points out Della. Boasting a variety of backgrounds covering all corners of the U.S. and experience in guiding tours, her equipe of gastronauts share a love of food and an expansive knowledge of South Florida. “Some of our tour guides come from a multicultural background, while others are homegrown. They are amicable, pleasant and street smart individuals with tact and a great sense of humor,” remarks Della.
The Food Network filmed a soon-to-be-broadcast segment on Miami Culinary Tours, which has also been featured on the Travel Channel, most of the local channels, and European TV. In March, Della prepared a five-day shooting of best street food in Miami for the Travel Channel by introducing a panoply of restaurants and cuisine to its audience. For a video of the production, please visit www.travelchannel.com/video/miamis-old-school-street-food. In addition to South Beach and Havana tours, the company offers private and group tours upon request. “Clients booking private tours for special occasions also benefit from perks,” notes Della. She and her team are planning another food tour, which will run through the Wynwood Design District.
The cost of embarking on one of Miami Culinary’s standard tours is $59; customized tours are priced in accordance with the customer’s needs and the number of guests in attendance. The company offers seasonal discounts as well as discounts to military veterans. “Taking one of our tours is akin to going on an epicurean exploration through Miami. You get to experience both the city’s glitz and glam as well as well as its humble side. You learn about art deco architecture and Miami’s acquisition of the status as one of the U.S’s major cities all while having a good time with people who share your interests and tasting amazing food!” observes Della.
For more information, please contact Della at [email protected] or (786) 942-8856
By: Yara Zakharia, Esq.