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Little Havana food tour wins award from TripAdvisor

A tour where participants walk around Little Havana eating and drinking at various restaurants has won an award from TripAdvisor in the global food experiences category.

Miami Culinary Tours won one of the first Travelers’ Choice awards for its Little Havana Food and Walking Tour, coming in fifth place behind cooking classes in Florence, Italy, and New Orleans and food tours in Rome and Paris. TripAdvisor is a travel planning and booking site.

“Maybe the reason it has been so popular is … we tell the culture behind the food,” says Grace Della, founder and director of operations for Miami Culinary Tours. “We really go into the why is this dish here in Miami, how it got there, how it was modified, not only by locals … but folks from the neighborhood.”

Della says that in between the food stops, the tour makes little detours to soak up some of the culture of Little Havana — art, music, cigar rolling, Santeria and a history (the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961).

The food stops are:

• Beef empanada and a cafe cubano at El Pub Restaurant, 1548 SW Eighth St. ElPubRestaurant.com.

• Mojito at Ball and Chain, 1513 SW Eighth St. BallAndChainMiami.com.

• Cubano sandwich at Old's Havana Cuban Bar and Cocina, 1444 SW Eighth St. OldsHavana.com.

• Guava pastelito at Yisell Bakery, 1356 SW Eighth St. Facebook.com.

• Guarapo juice at Los Pinarenos Fruteria, 1334 SW Eighth St. Facebook.com.

• Ice cream at Azucar Ice Cream, 1503 SW Eighth St. AzucarIceCream.com.

The cultural stops are:

• Cubaocho Museum and Performing Arts Center, 1465 SW Eighth St., No. 106. CubaOcho.com.

• Havana Classic Cigar, 1419 SW Eighth St., Miami. HavanaClassic.com.

• Cuban Memorial Boulevard Park, 999 SW 13th Ave. MiamiGov.com/Parks.

• Maximo Gomez Park, 801 SW 15th Ave. MiamiGov.com/Parks.

Della started Miami Culinary Tours in 2010. “I love food,” she says. “The whole idea was to introduce folks to Cuban food. I would go to their mansion and pick up people who didn’t want to go to Little Havana by themselves. I started like that, doing weekend tours. After six months, I had my first hire, and he’s still with me. I always say, ‘I don’t hire tour guides. I hire personalities.’ ”

In addition to the Little Havana tour, the company offers food tours of South Beach and the Wynwood neighborhood. Their latest offering is a public art installation and dining tour in the Miami Design District. The Little Havana tour lasts 2 1/2 hours and costs $56 per person. For more information or to order tickets, call 786-942-8856 or go to MiamiCulinaryTours.com.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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