Miami food tour with Burger Beast: Islas Canarias, Pincho Factory, Rio Cristal, Azucar Ice Cream

by Julius Mayo Jr | December 17th, 2012 -

When looking for the best restaurants to eat at while traveling, it’s usually best to get advice from a local food expert. For Miami food, one of my favorite blogs that I turn to is BurgerBeast.com where food blogger, Sef Gonzalez, writes about great comfort food and burgers. Earlier this year I was in Miami and Burger Beast took me for a tour of some of his favorite places to eat. He also gave me a tour of the neighborhood of Westchester, where he grew up in, surrounded by Cuban food and culture. Burger Beast should really be a tour guide of Cuban culture and good food in Miami.

Islas Canarias Cafe – Restaurant & Bakery

Our first stop was at Islas Canarias Cafe. Burger Beast wanted to show me his favorite place for Croquetas in Miami. This café and bakery is the same family of the original Islas Canarias Restaurant down the street, and it’s ran by their children who are now adults of course and are talented culinarians. They have their food truck, Cubancube, that serves Cuban cuisine with their own twist, in South Florida. Islas Canarias Cafe & Bakery serves breakfast, a variety of dishes, and the Cuban classics. I let Burger Beast order for me since he knows good food, so he rambles off a list of food in Spanish, then asking me what I wanted to drink. Cortadito, please.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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I first started the meal with a Cortadito (an espresso topped with steamed milk). Strong cuban coffee with a hit of sugar and steam milk.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Croquetas Islas Canarias (Jamón) – Ham & Cheese

This is the signature Ham & Cheese Croqueta of Islas Canarias. Super soft and fluffy inside, with a crisp outside. It’s so delicate, but yet holds its structure perfectly when picking up. I still can’t get over how smooth and soft the filling was inside the croqueta, and it packed the right amount flavor. I can see how this is a Burger Beast favorite, who after years of searching, has not found one better than these.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Croquetas – Bacon & Cheddar (available only on their Cubancube Food Truck).

This is not on the menu at the cafe, but it is served on the company’s food truck, Cubancube. They let me taste it since I was there and it is a great combo of bacon and cheese flavors, keeping that same soft and delicate inside of the croquetta as the one above. A more modern take on the Croqueta using bacon, but it is done right.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Bistec a la Milanesa – Breaded steak, ham, swiss cheese, Spanish creole sauce

Since I let Burger Beast order for me, I didn’t know what to expect as the entree. Needless to say I was surprised and smiling when I saw the plate put down in front of me. Out came this massive sized steak, with Droolius written on the plate. The steak was so big, I could easily place five iPhones to cover it. Bistec a la Milanesa is a thinly pounded steak, breaded and fried, topped with ham, swiss cheese, and Spanish creole sauce. It was my first time having this cuban classic, tender and full of flavor. This could easily be shared or even finished if you were really hungry.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Another angle of the Bistec a la Milanesa, you can see it is served with a side of fries. Yes it is a big meal and no I did not finished it because we had more places to visit. We took it to go so we could eat more later.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Guava Pastelitos and bakery counter.

This is one of the bakery cases that can be seen as you walk in. A popular destination for Cuban baked goods, Pastelitos and more are constantly being purchased and heading out the door.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Islas Canarias Cafe Restaurant & Bakery is a good stop for Cuban cuisine, both classics and updated versions, as well as baked goods. It has a modern interior, helpful staff, and a certain authenticity to Cuban food that you will not find in popular Miami destinations like South Beach. Go here and eat, it’s good.

Islas Canarias Cafe Restaurant & Bakery
3804 Southwest 137th Avenue
Miami, FL 33175
www.islascanariasrestaurant.com
Islas Canarias Cafe Facebook Page
Cubancube Food Truck Facebook | Twitter

Pincho Factory

What’s a Burger Beast food tour with out burgers? We stop at Pincho Factory, a restaurant serving pinchos (skewers), burgers, hotdogs, and fries. It’s located in the Westchester neighborhood, a few doors down from the well known Cuban restaurant, Rio Cristal. Pincho factory is putting out quality food, like their steak pinchos that use rib eye steak which are aged for 25 days and marinated for 24 hours before serving. The burgers have unique combinations that pack lots of flavor and they are always coming up with new burger combinations every week, offering them as specials. While we didn’t have any pinchos on this trip, we did order a burger, hot dog and fries.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Fritanga Burger, Cartel Dog, Chocolate Fries

This was our order as it came out. Burger Beast ordered the Cartel Dog, I had the Fritanga Burger, and we split the Chocolate Fries.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Cartel Dog – 100% Pure Vienna beef with a strip of Bacon, melted cheese, mango sauce, potato sticks, and Pinks sauce

Burger Beast knows good burgers and he also knows good hot dogs. This is just one of several hot dogs offered on the menu at Pincho Factory. *Note: the photo was taken earlier this year and I’ve been informed they now use a different potato stick topping.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Chocolate Fries topped with our chocolate syrup and condensed milk

The idea of chocolate syrup and condensed milk on french fries was one that I even doubted. When you taste it however, it really makes sense on your taste buds. Something I probably cannot explain, but you will just have to try it for yourself. Savory and crisp fries actually balance out the sweetness of a house-made chocolate sauce and condensed milk. Not overly sweet, but just right.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Fritanga Burger topped w/ fried white cheese, cabbage slaw, crema

This was the Fritanga Burger that I ordered and oh was it good. You can’t deny that a chunk of fried white cheese in your burger will only make it better. The cabbage slaw kept it fresh and the crema added more savoriness. Pincho Factory uses a special spice blend in their burgers, making them full of flavor and very unique to this restaurant.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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A close up of the Fritanga Burger, this is a burger I could eat any day. I definitely finish this one, along with the fries, which oddly enough made a good combination. If you like to pair your burger with a beer, Pincho Factory carries several craft beers too.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Pincho Factory is making good food with quality ingredients. I plan to go back for some pinchos, try another burger, and of course the fries. You can find them at times serving from their Pincho Factory food truck at various events. Be on the look out for their new concept and location coming out in Coral Gables in the near future.

Pincho Factory
9860 SW 40th St
Miami, FL 33165
www.pinchofactory.com
www.facebook.com/pinchofactory
Twitter @PinchoFactory

Rio Cristal

Next door is Rio Cristal, a long time Cuban restaurant that has been around for a very long time and is a staple for Cuban cuisine. When you walk in, it’s like you stepped back in time into the 1980’s. This Cuban style restaurant has remained almost untouched, complete with the same furniture, tables and chairs that were put in during that era. Burger Beast said that he ate here as a kid with his family, while growing up in this neighborhood, and his parents still dine here until this day. The restaurant is known for it’s authentic Cuban comfort food that probably serves all of the classic dishes. This day we didn’t come in to eat more entrees, but we came in for dessert. Rio Cristal is known for their flan and is the reason why we stopped in and ordered it to go.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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We got a few orders of Flan to go, which came in these styrofoam cups. It did not make the prettiest photo, but the flan itself was really good. The custard was super creamy and rich, with a nicely sweetened caramel. The pair together was one of the best I’ve had and worth a stop just for this.

Rio Cristal
9872 SW 40th St
Miami, FL 33165

 
Driving to our next stop was when Burger Beast gave me a tour of current and former locations of Cuban restaurants and stores more in the neighborhood. He mentioned out so many names and interesting facts, he really needs to write a guide for the area. Nothing you have seen yet on any travel or food t.v. show, but something that should be featured and highlighted. The Cuban community has deep roots in these surrounding neighborhoods, sharing its food and culture with Miami. Of course there are many different cultural neighborhoods around Miami, but there are strong ties here waiting to be discovered. As we drive down through Little Havana on Calle Ocho, we come to our last stop. Round two for dessert at Azucar Ice Cream Company.

Azucar Ice Cream Company

Azucar Ice Cream Company is a shop that makes their ice cream in-house. They serve cuban inspired ice cream, with many fruits, sweet treats, or cookies from the homeland that are created into flavors. They also make some very unique and creative ice cream flavors like The Elvis made with peanut butter & banana (it has a really good peanut butter flavor) or the Beam Me Up a Bourbon-Heath Bar with Southern Comfort bourbon.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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They have A LOT of flavors and I probably sampled most of them before deciding my order. Azucar has a whole list of seasonal flavors like Crème de Vie (Egg Nog) or Mamacita (Orange Blossom-Almond), Classics like Coca Cola or Sicillian Pistachio, plus sorbets, tropical fruits, and a few sugar-free flavors.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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One of their signature ice creams is the Abuela Maria® that uses guava, cream cheese and Galletas Maria cookies as ingredients. It had good flavors with some crunch from the cookies. Another one, Rose ice cream tasted very floral with a smooth sweetness, which I like.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Lemon Sorbet

Burger Beast goes with one of his favorites, Lemon Sorbet.

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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Strawberry & Coconut Ice Cream

After tasting almost everything, I decided to get two of my favorite ice cream flavors. Strawberry and Coconut ice cream side by side were both amazing. Strawberry tasting like fresh strawberries with sweet cream and a sweet Coconut that tasted like real coconut. Nothing artificial tasting about these flavors, all natural ingredients for real flavors. Why can’t more ice creams taste like these?

 
Eating with Burger Beast in Miami, FL

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All of the ice creams at Azucar use high quality and natural ingredients, and they like to use locally grown, seasonal fruits. The end product definitely shows the quality of this artisanal ice cream boutique. I’ve been back again since this first trip in this post, and after tasting everything, I got the strawberry again. This is a must stop in Miami and you could probably stop in and try another flavor on each visit without ever getting tired of their ice cream.

Azucar Ice Cream Company
1503 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33135
(Little Havana, Calle Ocho & SW 15 Ave across from the Tower Theater)
www.azucaricecream.com
www.facebook.com/AzucarIceCream
Twitter @AzucarIceCream

As the sun went down and we ended the first Miami food tour, Burger Beast probably pointed about another 10 spots where we need to go eat at. I’m sure there will be many more days and food tours to come in Miami, but make sure to try to stop by these restaurants. This food tour was off the beaten path of Miami, one that I would recommend for anyone to take. The restaurants are all worth the trip and if you need more places to eat in Miami and South Florida, visit www.burgerbeast.com or check out the food truck events at www.miamifoodtrucks.com that Burger Beast coordinates.

Any of these restaurants your favorites or do you have some Miami favorites you would like to share? Leave a comment below and I’ll let you know if I’ve been or if I will take your suggestion and let you know how it goes…

 
Words and photos by Julius Mayo Jr.
Content and photos © Droolius.com 2012

 

Islas Canarias Cafe Restaurant & Bakery on Urbanspoon    Pincho Factory on Urbanspoon    

Rio Cristal on Urbanspoon    Azucar Ice Cream Company on Urbanspoon

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