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A Day of Dining on $10 in South Beach

Can it be done?

Sure, Miami has some cheap hole-in-the-walls where you can pick up a dollar taco and inexpensive pastry. But tourist-filled South Beach is another story. The area is home to the $50 mojito and the Millionaire Dinner. So when I was challenged to eat a day's worth of meals for under $10, I was fairly certain I was going to starve.

7 a.m. Le Chic French Bakery

[All Photography: John Dangaran]

It's 7 a.m. and the Le Chic Bakery on Washington in South Beach is open for business. No one is waiting at the door. It's not the weekend or a holiday. Just another day on the beach. The walls are lined with baguettes, loafs, and Cuban bread while the shelves are stacked with glazed and powdered pastries. There are endless options within budget. A few shop workers and eager tourists begin to come and go grabbing coffee and pastries while I stand there deciding between a plain or chocolate croissant for $1.75. It's then that I spot a patch of Rosetta rolls next to the sandwich bread. For 75 cents each it's an opportunity that can't be missed. What is more simple and timeless than bread and butter? With the money saved, I order a Cortadito which I originally had planned to skip. The roll is fresh and light while the butter is perfectly salted and spreadable. My dad use to always say the only reason anyone ate bread was so that they could eat butter. It's a beautiful thing when a roll of bread becomes a meal I can barley finish. (To sweeten it up it up ask for a little cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on the butter. )

Rosetta $.75 and Cortadito $1.75. Total: $2.50

Remaining: $7.50

12 p.M. Puerto Sagua

Puerto Sagua is the type of Latin diner where you can go to any time of the day and love it. My favorite time to go is when I'm escaping from the sun after hours of sitting at the beach. Sit at the counter. You can throw your beach bag below your feet and have the sand fall off your legs as you eat. The A/C and cold counter is a haven along with the chatter of other beach goers. My go-to normally is the Cuban sandwich. Let's just say, when the Food Network wanted the recipe for the Cuban Sandwich they asked Puerto Sagua. Enough said. Instead, I look to the appetizers. For $2.25, I've got the option between a Croquette or a Pappa Rellena. The Rellena is twice as big and I've never had one. I go for it solely on portion size. It's roughly the size of a baseball, and as soon as the waiter throws it in a paper bag and hands it over I know I'm in for a treat, because it's nearly as heavy as one. Like all croquettes they're best straight out of the fryer. I crack it open like an egg. It's dense; filled with braised beef and bay. The potato flour has a creamy, mashed-potato like consistency. It craves acid and goes great with their habanero hot sauce.

Papa Rellena $2.10 and Bottled Water $1.00. Total: $3.10

Remaining: $4.40

5 P.M. Go-Go Fresh Food

My feet take me up Collins to Lincoln Road. I spend the afternoon among the shops and clothing stores of the outdoor mall. After, I follow tree-lined Meridian Avenue back south along Flamingo Park and over to Alton Road to Go-Go Fresh for an empanada. Go-Go Fresh is tucked away on Alton between 9th and 10th Street. It's easy to miss. Don't be surprised if you have to circle the block once or twice because you can't seem to find it. The Classic Argentine empanada is by far their most popular. The baked shell is soft and flaky, and filled with savory ground sirloin, olives, egg whites, scallions, and a homemade, secret sauce. The empanada is filling and flavorful without being heavy. It pairs perfectly along with their three hot sauces: a spicy jalapeno relish, a hot Louisiana vinegar sauce, and a mild Tomatillo verde sauce. Each sauce brings out different levels of heat and flavors to the palm-sized pastry making it a very versatile dish.

Empanada $2.75

Remaining: $1.65

6 p.m. Insomnia Cookies

With just enough money left for something sweet, I head back towards the ocean to Washington Avenue and Insomnia Cookies. They're open until 5 a.m. for those looking for a late night sweet tooth fix. It's great for me because all their traditional cookies are $1.60 each. They have plenty of options to satisfy any sugar fiend from M&M's to oatmeal to snickerdoodle and peanut butter. I keep it old school and go with chocolate chunk. The clerk pulls the cookie out of the oven where they're kept nice and warm. The dough is soft and sweet with the big chocolate chunks all half-melted and gooey. With only a nickel of my $10 remaining, it's the perfect ending to a penny-pushing day.

Chocolate Chunk $1.60

Total Remaining: $.05