Restaurant News & Reviews

Flavors of South Florida, both savory and sweet

Looking for an out-of-the-ordinary taste of South Florida to share with friends and family over the holidays? Here are a two delicious possibilities.


Venezuelans celebrate the season with savory pan de jamon (ham bread) and hallacas (meat-stuffed tamales). Family-owned Charlotte Bakery offers logs of the bread made with yeasted dough or house-made puff pastry enhanced with garlic. A filling of ham, bacon, pimiento olives and raisins is rolled up jelly-roll style. The golden brown loaves create a pinwheel pattern when sliced.

Harry Coleman and his wife, Michelle, turn out 300 loaves a day through Christmas; order ahead to ensure you get one. On Christmas Eve, they’ll offer roasted turkeys, pork shoulder and pot roast with rice and beans for a take-home feast.

Charlotte Bakery, 1499 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-535-0095; pan de jamon $25, hallacas $6, take-home feasts $80-$140.


Guatemalan-born Clara Santana bakes banana cakes from a 100-year-old recipe that was passed down from her Tia Martita. Made with all-natural ingredients including bananas from local farms, they’re so moist they don’t need frosting. The flavor is rich and full of banana with a hint of cinnamon.

The loaf-shaped cakes are baked to order in a leased commercial kitchen, so they are always fresh. Variations are available with blueberries, walnuts or chocolate chips. Delicious for breakfast or as dessert with a dollop of whipped cream, the cakes are available year round.

Martita’s Banana Cakes; large cakes $8, small cakes $4; order at 786-223-7264 or

Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at