You don’t have to shop at Dior or Dolce & Gabbana to get to know the Design District better. In fact, you can take a tour of the luxury retail neighborhood wearing shorts you found on the Old Navy sale rack if you want. Just hook up with Miami Culinary Tours.
Earlier this year Miami Culinary Tours, which hosts similar walk-and-eat tours of Wynwood, South Beach and Little Havana, added the Design District to its repertoire. Coming in November is a Coconut Grove Food & History tour. If that one is half as much fun as the Design District stroll, we’ll be pretty happy.
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As it turns out, stuffing your face is a really good way to get to know a place. Or maybe not. Who cares? This tour is about sampling good food while a friendly guide fills you in on interesting details of the neighborhood, its restaurants and its art.
Here are the most important things you need to know about the tour:
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Arrive semi-hungry. You’re going to try small portions of a lot of food.
- Don’t worry if it rains – the tour guide will provide umbrellas.
- Tip your guide
- Seriously, don’t come in your Louboutins.
Here’s why we enjoyed the Design District tour so much:
St. Roch Market
Before we launch into hysterics over the falafel – and that’s coming, don’t worry – know that the tour starts upstairs at St. Roch Market. The upscale food hall, a test kitchen for some of Miami’s best chefs, features 12 vendors. We tried samples from Dal Plin (Italian); Itamae (sushi); Tran Am (Vietnamese) and Jaffa (Israeli). We are considering having our ashes sprinkled at Dal Plin, we love it so much, but don’t tell anybody.
Then the fabulous folks at Coop (Southern cooking) spotted our group and came bustling over with a basket of chicken bites that tasted like heaven itself had brined and fried them. This is what they eat in The Good Place.
Now, about that falafel, served on a sea of tahini. Our new goal in life is to find better falafel somewhere in Miami, even though we know this is impossible. These crunchy nuggets were the best we ever had.
Next, we went upstairs to investigate Abaco Premium Wines, a wine shop that hosts tastings. Tour guide Mirka Roch Harris shows you exactly how happy you will be to get out of the sun and sample a cold glass of 2016 AM2 rose from Sonoma, California.
Along the rout you’ll see some of the Design District’s notable art, including this fiberglass sculpture of architect Le Corbusier by French artist Xavier Veilhan.
It has been maybe 30 minutes since you’ve eaten anything. My God. So back downstairs to Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s restaurant. Estefan Kitchen makes the wait worthwhile by serving you a perfectly balanced flavor explosion: expertly seasoned pork, mashed yucca and plantains, along with a generous pour of red or white wine.
Hope you saved room, because now it’s time to stroll past Hermes and Fendi and try a taco. Because you haven’t had enough food yet.
The final stop is MadLab Creamery, the informal and adorable dessert mecca by Soraya Kilgore. You finish your day with a cup of ice cream or sorbet, in our case Ecuadorian chocolate. Because Ecuadorian chocolate! The Japanese cheesecake will definitely lure us back.
Design District Food Tour
What: Five stops and a short walking tour around the Design District; meets upstairs at St. Roch Market. Reservations a must.
When: 12:15 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Tickets: $69 per person, $49 for kids