Trip Notes Miami 2023: Great Food, Awesome Cholov Yisroel Chocolate Workshop, And More Weekend Fun

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Introduction and outbound flight:

I know. I really should write more trip notes about my travels to Antarctica, Iceland, the Lofoten Islands, Molokai, South Africa, Tasmania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, or exploring the eruptions of Fagradalsfjall and Mauna Loa. But based on metrics, it seems like all anyone really cares about is Miami and it’s been a couple years since I last wrote about Miami. As always feedback is appreciated and you can sound off in the comment for which of those I should write about next.

My wife’s brother made an upsherin 2 weeks ago in Hollywood, so we took the opportunity to spend the weekend with my grandparents, may they live and be well to 120, in Boynton Beach.

Plus, we figured that we’d beat the Yeshiva Week rush. We may have done that, but places were still slammed and traffic was still awful. But hey, it’s a sub-3 hour flight and the weather is a whole lot better than back north.

I brought along my NY MTA bridge and tunnels E-Zpass that I bought in Queens last year for NYC discounts without monthly fees, but also registered my rental car’s plates with Sunpass. That turned out to be a good move as 8 tolls hit the E-Zpass, but one toll didn’t. That one toll billed my Sunpass account rather than the rental car, which would have charged an arm and a leg for using their toll service.

What I love about mileage tickets these days is that you can cancel and redeposit them at will, so we had bookings on various airlines and dates and I kept rebooking them as the prices dropped, which they did multiple times. In the end we paid fewer than 10K United miles each for nonstop flights from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale, and my wife and I each got 10K miles rebated thanks to booking one-way travel with our United Quest℠ Cards.

I did my usual move of checking in the bags while Mimi was busy with the kids, and then parking the car by myself. We met back up at the PreCheck CLEAR line, which had no line at all.

As I told my kids as we looked at the departure board for our flight to Fort Lauderdale that morning, “This is why friends Tattys don’t let friends kinderlach fly Spirit:”


When I booked the flight there were only scattered seats available, but I watched the seat map like a hawk and was able to get us 6 seats together in Economy Plus. I declined to get an upgrade as we’re better off just sticking together. Interestingly, the gate agent noted that she had been watching our seats over the past few days and said she was impressed how I finessed seats together. I know United looks after Global Services flyers, but I was just impressed that she was watching that closely.

Rafi had the window seat and enjoyed taking pictures above the clouds:


The flight attendant proactively thanks me for my status, which is very rare, and offered me a free drink and snack. I took the Tapas box, which is mostly kosher parve, and a Glenfarclas scotch mini, which I now have a ridiculously large collection of back home.

Ben B Coco, Wynwood:

I was catching up on the South Florida Master Thread on DDF while in-flight and noticed this post last month by yochai. He wrote about Ben B Coco and shared that the chocolates are really good, the owner is super nice, and he was able to get them delivered to Miami Airport with a Lyft.

I’m more than a little obsessed with chocolate, which is a problem as good cholov yisroel chocolate is hard to come by.

Was it really that good? I went to check out the Google reviews. 5 stars from 197 reviewers?!? OK, this sounds like it’s worth investigating for myself.

Surfside’s Miami Beach Chocolates is always worth a stop (the sea salt caramels and lotus truffles are excellent), but there aren’t many other cholov yisroel chocolates in the US that I’ve had.

Ardely’s in Paris was great, but that was a COVID fatality.

I scrolled onto Ben B Coco’s Instagram and saw they offer chocolate workshops.


Well, that could be fun. We did a workshop at Galita in Israel a few years ago, which was mostly building chocolate houses, but the kids loved it. However the workshop at De Karina was overpriced and boring, plus they wouldn’t allow our well behaved 2 year old inside.

Based on the reviews, it seemed like it could be a great activity, but the website has precious little useful information.

I confirmed with the ORB that everything was parve or cholov yisroel and then called Ben and he had availability for us that day. He also had no problem with us bringing along a 2 year old.

I love flying United to Fort Lauderdale as it’s just a couple minute indoor walk to the car rental facility. Rafi and Talia helped bring the bags curbside and I was back with with a minivan from National’s executive elite aisle in no time.

We drove right to Ben B Coco in Wynwood, a colorful neighborhood in Miami with art murals painted on buildings everywhere you look.  I used to visit the area back when Zak the Baker was cholov yisroel, but haven’t been back since he went cholov stam.

Ben had giant placemats of chocolate waiting for us and was excited to teach us the process of how he makes chocolate.

He makes everything in house from scratch and it’s incredible to see him roasting the beans from different countries to create a boutique product that is unlike anything I’ve tried before. There’s no preservatives or additives in these chocolates and you’ll see how different various chocolates taste based on where the beans grow.


We got to watch the entire chocolate making process, while tasting the product as it moves along between each stage from bean to bar.

Best of all, Ben is incredibly passionate about his craft and worked to keep everyone interested in it, from unique facts to dipping sticks into the vats of chocolate. He’s just missing the Willy Wonka hat.



After learning all about chocolate and tasting seemingly endless varieties of chocolate, all made in house, the workshop concluded with us molding and painting our own chocolate bars. And of course you can choose from dark, white, or milk chocolate.








The kids loved choosing toppings for their bars:


OK, we’re not pros. But it’s fun and the chocolate is outrageously good!


You then package up your chocolate bar creation:


All of the chocolates here fit perfectly with Wynwood, with the fusion of art of delicious food.


The dulce de leche bars and the nuts are unique and delicious:




And for DDF member @chucksterace, they even have edible flowers:


The sea salt covered chocolate caramels and peanut butter bars are just heavenly:


After a very enjoyable workshop and then spending way too much on bars and jars of homemade chocolate and caramel…


…and on fantastic chocolate bonbons, both in dark…


… and milk chocolate:


I just hope they remain cholov yisroel, as this was all a real treat for us to experience.

I loved their chocolate workshop so much that I asked Ben about making a discount for DansDeals readers who want to do their workshop. He said that he’d be happy to pass along a 5% discount to anyone that mentions DansDeals when they book, which you can do by calling 786-309-5566 or messaging Ben B Coco on Instagram. The store is located at 170 NW 26th St, Miami, FL 33127.

The Chocolate Experience workshop, which takes about 90 minutes, covers tasting more than 20 types of chocolate and confections, learning how chocolate is made from the tree to the bars in the store to tips for making your own chocolate confections, and everyone will mold and paint their own chocolate bar. The workshops cost $150/person for 1-2 people, $125/person for 3-6 people, and $95/person for 7 or more people before the discount.

Alternatively, kids can paint a bar for $39.

Ben also said if you mention DansDeals, you can also purchase 5 chocolate bars in store and get a 6th bar of the same price for free!

Ben treated us to ridiculously delicious chocolate covered homemade marshmallows and we made our way up to my grandparents house in Boynton Beach.

Smash House Miami, North Miami Beach:

But first JJ insisted that we pickup a blooming onion from Smash House Miami along the way back. They weren’t yet open for dining, so we got a few things to go.

It was indeed phenomenal, and the kids loved their shnitzel and smash burgers.


Ditmas, Boca Raton:

After going for a swim with the kids in my grandparents complex’s heated pool, we decided to order in some food from Ditmas, which was the only available option on Uber Eats at that time.

I had never had food from Ditmas in Boca, but we used to love the LA Ditmas. Unfortunately this wasn’t anything like that.

Though to be fair, delivery food can’t really be compared to eating in.

The steak sandwich was very tough and chewy:


The burger was very rare:


The Tony’s fries were good, though not like how we remembered the addictive flavor of them in LA:


Stefano’s, Coral Springs:

DDF member Lurker let me know that he opened Stefano’s grocery store with Shabbos takeout food and pizza in Coral Springs, which was just 20 minutes from Boynton Beach, so we stopped there Friday.

Their dips, fish, kugel, pulled beef, and brisket were all excellent!


And the kids loved the pizza we had for lunch there:


Cinnaholic, Boca Raton:

For dessert, we stopped at one of our kids favorite spots, Cinnaholic in Boca:


We didn’t have time on the short Friday to go to Sugar Sand Park, a truly incredible park in Boca that we have enjoyed in the past for countless hours:


Cafe Noir, Hollywood:

After Shabbos we called Cafe Noir and were told that could make reservations for 9:45pm, so we booked that and drove the 45 minutes down there.

The place was still packed when we got down there and after waiting in line to talk to the Maître d’, we were told they didn’t have a reservation for us.

My phone records all calls, so I pulled up the recording of them confirming the 9:45pm reservation.

The Maître d’ was nonplussed. She shrugged and said we were welcome to wait, but it would be at least an hour for a table.



These pretzels are making me thirsty, Cafe Noir…


In the end we ordered food to go from them. They said it would take 30 minutes, but it wound up being more than an hour. There still were no tables available and we wound up eating in the car.

But after all that, I will say that the fried fish bao buns were delicious, though the truffle fries were mediocre.


The fettucine alfredo was good, but not as good as NYC’s Abaita or Noi Due:


Hadekel, North Miami Beach:

On Sunday we drove down to Hadekel for brunch.

The Limonana and Iced Mocha are outstanding:


The Pita Saruf is the stuff dreams are made of. Roasted tomatoes, onions, eggplant, chickpeas, tahina, and zchug and come together in a delicious pita to create something magical:


The Sabich Bureka is also incredible:


Their quinoa salad was also great. I’m still not sure how simple Israeli food tastes so good here, but it’s better than anything I’ve had in Israel or anywhere else, so go figure.

After brunch it was off to an upsherin in Hollywood, complete with a bubble show that the kids loved:


And then we caught up with my grandparents, my brother JJ and his family, at my brother Dovid and his family at their place in Aventura Isles. My younger 3 brothers live in Cleveland.


Fuego, North Miami Beach:

We capped off Sunday with a birthday dinner for my mother-in-law at Fuego.

Fuego has loud music that turns into a real party scene when people have a birthday, which seems to happen at every table. Do people come here specifically for birthdays or do they just say that every time they come?

At first the little ones were confused at the spectacle:


But they soon got into it every time they brought a sparkler to someone’s table:


Personally, the noise is all a bit too much for me to enjoy a dinner, but I can see why people enjoy it.

In general, apps are the way to go here, though the pastrami eggrolls have gotten very stingy on the pastrami:


Dirty nachos are a good dish:


The Caipirinha is excellent:


Short ribs were also excellent:


The Mexican street corn is a surprisingly delicious dish. Who knew parve cheese could taste that good?


Same goes for the mac and cheese:


The carne asada grilled steak tacos had very chewy meat:



The brisket flatbreads were OK, but the brisket can certainly use some work:



The pastrami flatbread on the other hand was the highlight of the night, this is a great dish:


After taking her to Toronto’s Marron Bistro last year, my daughter Talia is now a real steak lover. I long ago decided to just order apps from Fuego, but ordered a steak for her. Unfortunately it was still black and blue inside, so we sent it back. Alas, it came back charred beyond the point of edibility, but by then we were all full from the appetizers. That just reinforced my previous beliefs about skipping the entrees here.


And we got the full birthday treatment of course. The kids loved the dancing and clapping!



Asiatiko, Aventura:

I never wrote about Asiatiko, but I’d be remiss not mention it here. I visited Miami last May to celebrate my brother Dovid’s birthday and to fly with my grandparents back north for the summer.


The Sumatran Tiger is a great drink:


The corn ribs are excellent:


The Turkey wrapped dates are out of this world. What’s crazier about that is I don’t particularly care for turkey or dates!


The gyozas are great:


The truffle fries are excellent:


The sliders are phenomenal:


The hot pot is good, though not quite as good as the other dishes:


Overall, I think Asiatiko, Street, and Mendel’s have the best fleishig food in Miami.

On Monday we said our goodbyes to my grandparents, but not before my Bubby managed to prepare delicious french toast for breakfast and for the road.

Moran Patisserie, Fort Lauderdale:

Near Fort Lauderdale airport is Moran Bakery, probably the best French inspired cholov yisroel bakery this side of the Atlantic, ahead of the excellent Patis in NYC.

All of their croissants are beyond belief.

Chocolate hazelnut, almond, blueberry cheese, cinnamon, chococoate, and good old plain buttery croissants are all incredible! And the frozen ice coffee will take you right back to Israel.


Moran also has a food menu now, so we ordered an avocado toast and a truffle mushroom toast, which were also great!


Flying home:

United had a plane change and while 5 of our seats were preserved together in Economy Plus, I had booked Mimi’s ticket separately so she would qualify for the 5K Quest rebate.

Unfortunately that meant despite being seated next to us in Economy Plus, she was now relegated to a middle seat in the back of the plane.

Knowing that it would be nearly impossible to trade anyone for that seat, I decided to opt into the upgrade, which I rarely do when I’m with the family. United allows for a complimentary upgrade for an elite member and a family member on award tickets if you have a United card, and sure enough, we got 2 upgraded seats. That enabled me to put Mimi back in the Economy Plus seat which opened up, but meant that we had 4 seats in Economy Plus and 2 seats in first class 737. But it’s a whole lot easier to get people to trade you an Economy Plus for a first class seat than an Economy middle seat!

In the end I decided to go by the book and have the United gate agent move people around, by declining my upgrade on condition that we could have our 6 seats together as they had been. That created some extra work for the gate agent, but ensured the next people in line would get upgraded and that we wouldn’t have to make any shenanigans on the plane.

We had the same flight attendant back to Cleveland as we had from Cleveland on Thursday. This time she recognized me and offered me 2 free snacks and 2 free drinks to add to my collection…


Our kids winter break is later than most other Jewish day schools, which have theirs last week or this week. Where are you spending your winter break?

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156 Comments On "Trip Notes Miami 2023: Great Food, Awesome Cholov Yisroel Chocolate Workshop, And More Weekend Fun"

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“My phone records all calls, so I pulled up the recording of them confirming the 9:45pm reservation.”

State of Florida is not a single party consent state — this is technically illegal!


what app do you use for that?


Came here to ask if you start each call with ” this call my be recorded for quality control “

Dan’s Lawyer

You only need two party consent for private conversations, a phone call confirming a reservation in a busy restaurant has no expectation of privacy. Great write up Dan!


This whole post was worth it just for the spirit line . Tatty doesn’t let kinderlach fly spirit. Dan the man


Excellent article


I had a similar experience at Cafe Noir a couple of years ago. We made a reservation for Friday lunch, but when we got there, they said they had no record of it. They were able to make space for us, but then we waited a very long time for food, and some of our group were finished long before others had even started


“As I told my kids as we looked at the departure board that morning, “This is why friends Tattys don’t let friends kinderlach fly Spirit:”

Does this refer to there being Spirit cancellations on the board or just a random, general dig/joke about Spirit?


How did you check the bags and then park the car?

Wouldn’t you need to first park before unloading the car and checking the bags or am I missing something?


Thanks for the great report!
I really love all your trip reports and followed them to a T. Would greatly appreciate TR reports of the other destinations.(I know they are very time consuming)


Just reading this feel I need to go on a diet 😉


can you do a roundtrip ticket and get the 10k rebate with quest card? or it has to be one ways?


Just showed smash house that you posted them!


What do you mean by checking in bags while the kids wait? Can you elaborate on that? it is always one of the more difficult parts of traveling with kids. Thanks!


Does Spirit cancel often from EWR to FLL? We have tickets for this Thursday


How do you find these restaurants?! When I go to Miami I google “kosher restaurant” in google maps – these ones have never come up, just the blah ones


Check DDF for Miami


Dan, happy you enjoyed Ben B. I was so surprised that it remained under your radar for so long!


Thanks for the roundup! It was very informative! You must check out jz steakhouse next time you’re in Miami. Amazing food and service!! You’re missing out! Also foozo pizza was excellent food and alot less of a hassle than when we went to cafe noir…. Cafe noir doesn’t value it’s customers time. We also waited forever despite having a reservation…


“My phone records all calls,” which app do you use?


I much prefer the reviews of interesting places. No one needs a 4000436th review of restaurants in Miami. I’ve been to Zimbabwe, but like that stuff is actually helpful.

Me and you

Love your trip reports, and anytime you post you do a great job, even by this unfortunate tragedy last week, you kept us in the loop, with the right tone,
Not to mention the abundance of info,
I’ll be waiting eagerly for the “ Tasmania” trip report.

One quick question , I see your not a Europe fan, why?


The Galita site says that a couple of their locations have a kashrut supervision. But i couldn’t find which supervision. Do you know?

Voice of Reason

Try JZ Steakhouse next time.
You’re welcome

florida resident

been living here for over 30 years and didnt realize the only thing to do down here it to go to restaurants!
But seriously, Cafe Noir is an excellent restaurant, been there many times and unless you are there on saturday nights or during January, service is excellent and no problem getting in.


An establishment that abuses their customers by taking reservations that they cant fulfill is Not an excellent restaurant..


So how do you have UA GS? They don’t give it to people buying award seats in Y going CLE-FLL… This is not a knock on you. Just wondering since it NORMALLY requires MAJOR cash spend in premium classes, which is the antithesis of this entire website. Is it because of your following?


Re: using NY EZpass in FL, I thought I was supposed to add the plate to my EZpass account, but you mentioned that you added your plate to your Sunpass account. Is there a difference which way I do it? TIA


Agree on cafe noir. The food was good but not GOOD and the wait time was ridiculous. They also couldn’t find my reservation and seemed very unhappy to seat us with an infant.

They put us 5 ppl (including the highchair) at a table for 4 and then wondered why the plates knocked into other plates resulting with food on the table and drinks on the floor. (At least the waitress apologized) .

Definitely not a place I need to return to.

Fan Feels

I think the hate againd spirit is quite overrated, it makes a great choice for kolel ppl and regular family’s without any fancy shmantzy credit card statuses. As long as you drop your expectations and flush your ego, your good to fly, and keep the $$ for the destination. Just like elal pre-covid


Thanks for the roundup! Id love to see the S Africa report!


Any idea as to how many other flights the gate agent would be keeping tabs on?


Dan, Time to visit Panama.


Getting a stomachache reading the post!

On another note National charges $4 a day for tollpass. Is it worth the hassle to save $20?


JZ is top notch


@Dan rlly well written and informative. I’d love to see some of ur favorite travel products


Dan do you have info on this , A hasidic man was removed from his Delta flight tonight for the crime of putting his religious garb (hat and jacket) in the overhead bin when he was only allowed to place a carry-on bag there.

Chaim Ber Finkelstein

Next plaza over from feugo is bamboo Chinese kosher. We really loved it. You should try it next time


was that under 10k miles for each way or for the round trip
I also started doing the busy with kids check in but that really only works if you have status or it’s empty otherwise the check in lines can be really long.
I know you mentioned watching the seats like a hawk I thought that you can get a seat watch through expert flyer so why was that necessary?


write about Antarctica


@dan, can we get a South Africa trip report???


Is there a similar post for Orlando? What about Los Angeles?


I can’t figure out how to get a MTA bridges and tunnels ezpass, I have a regular ny ezpass which charges a monthly fee…?


I just gained 30 lbs reading this article, thanks Dan


I think you should finish Antarctica. Then go, as you would suspect, to the destination that has had better Kosher interactions.


do we have to focus on food so much?


Do you ask that for Every Jewish holiday?


no because there is a mitzva/inyan to have nice foods; I doubt on yom chol there is any mitzva/inyan to focus on the meals


My point is food is a focal point in Yidishkeit – your comment insinuated that food should not be a focus in life and lets focus on more important things in life yet we see when it comes to Yiddishkeit its all about food – you cant eat, you could eat, eat this – not that, eat it this way, make a bracha etc. if its a special day eat this.. you get my drift? Yiddishkeit is very focused on food – Who says activities, socializing, things to do is the thing to focus on in life? That being said Dan, your Grandmother made Delicious french toast why in the world did you go buy yourself breakfast at Moran? I hope your Grandma doesn’t read this – I would be so annoyed at you.. unless she’s like you that you gotta just try these places out…


It’s a great kosher outlet


TR on Africa. Jungle tour, lion sightings. Would love to see that

Product photographer

I brought my ez pass with me to Florida and it didn’t work. Got charged by hertz for 13 bucks. What did I do wrong? I’m supposed to register it with the rentals plates?


Hertz (platepass, that is) will refund the admin fees if you can prove that you had an ezpass in the car


any other compaines do that?

M os

Please finish the Antarctic series you did 4 great posts but never wrote about what happened when u stepped foot on Antarctic

Rebbi Refael

It seems that all of Miami Beach restaurants have turned into a genuine food desert.


Why don’t you cover the story about the guy that was kicked off a flight from Florida?

Tony c

@dan. Besides restaurants, any other fun places for kids?
Chocolate; workshop seems amazing but very expensive. Also check out damyon when in Paris. Thats number one.


Don’t give into the masses! One of the main reasons I got excited about travel was reading all your trip reports to places I never even imagine feasible prior to miles.
I’d still love to see Iceland South Africa Hawaii etc.
Antarctica is prob a stretch for 99.99% of people so I’d hold off on that.


Great article!
Any word whether Ben B Coco’s will be open on chol hamoed Pesach?


You mentioned Paris chocolate without giving world-class chocolate store Damiel a shoutout? Must try!
also notable is Montreal’s Excellence chocolate.

both are parve and better (IMO) than any dairy chocolate by miles.