Cuba in Miami

Little Havana

Less than a half-hour drive from Miami Beach, you’ll find this neighborhood, where joyous music, irresistible flavors and a festive spirit invite you to discover Cuban culture.

Text: SOLEDAD JACOBSON   photos: MARK TOMARAS   map: MANUEL CÓRDOVA @thechumbeques
       

Miami_Capas_Final2

 

 

Dining

 

15219_MIA_0045

1. La esquina de la fama

The music can be heard out on the sidewalk, encouraging passers-by to improvise a little salsa dancing, and several give in to the temptation to explore this restaurant-museum that warmly welcomes guests. Slogans like “El arte de la libertad” (The Art of Freedom) and “Yo amo a Cuba” (I Love Cuba) are emblazoned on the folk art and paintings adorning La Esquina de la Fama, and owner Mike Chevallier is proud to serve “the best mojito in the world: it’s twice the size of what you normally get, and it contains two secret house ingredients.” On one of the most famous corners on Calle Ocho, you can admire the first mural painted in tribute to the Latino community as you enjoy the music and cocktails.

1388 SW 8th Street

faceboo_ico-xs La esquina de la fama

 


 

15219_MIA_0049

2. Los Pinareños Frutería

The vibrant color and freshness of the mangos, tamarinds and coconuts in this small market are just part of the appeal. Head to the back patio to enjoy a refreshing batido (milkshake) – try the one with a shot of espresso. The atmosphere is filled with nostalgia and Cuban culture; in fact, many of the original plants were brought as seeds from Cuba by friends and family of the owners and are then cultivated locally. During the noon lull you can carefully discover all the products the market has to offer and learn the story of this hard-working family from Pinar del Río.

1334 SW 8th Street

 


 

15219_MIA_0005

3. Café Versailles

“The world’s most famous Cuban restaurant” is how Café Versailles describes itself and how locals see it. Cuban families and visitors from around the world stop in to enjoy some of the menu’s 100+ traditional dishes, like ropa vieja (shredded stewed beef) or bistec de palomilla (thin steaks marinated in garlic and lime). Don’t be surprised if you find yourself surrounded by local politicians: stopping at Café Versailles is a favorite way show an affinity with the Cuban community. Before leaving, go to la ventanita (the walk-up coffee window) and end your visit with a coffee and a slice of traditional guava pie, like the Cubans do.

3555 SW 8th Street
www.versaillesrestaurant.com

 


 

Cuban Heritage

 

15219_MIA_0020

4. Maximo Gomez Park

Dominoes – the traditional game that brings together young and old alike back on the island – is also a staple in Little Havana. The dotted tiles provide the perfect excuse for older men and women to spend time together all week long in a unique space. The park’s founder, 92-year-old Rene Janero, is one of the ever-present aficionados who stop by to chat, play and share Cuban coffee with other players. Memories, anecdotes and political discussions make this spot a prime tourist attraction.

801 SW 15th Avenue

 


 

15219_MIA_0018bw

5. Paseo de la fama

A Latino take on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, celebrities from our region are honored with a star on the iconic Calle Ocho. The Paseo de la Fama begins at the Tower Theater and extends for two blocks, shining in the afternoon Miami sun, showcasing great Latin artists like Julio Iglesias, Thalia and Willy Chirino. The most popular star belongs to the unforgettable queen of salsa: Celia Cruz.

 


 

15219_MIA_0056

6. Tower Theater

The Art Deco architecture alone will make you stop to admire this historic theater, with its picturesque structure preserved since its inauguration in 1926. The marquee usually features Cuban films, and any English-language movies will have subtitles in Spanish. For many years, this theater was the first contact that Cuban families had with U.S. culture. Every year, it’s specially decorated to celebrate the Miami International Film Festival.

1508 SW 8th Street
www.towertheatermiami.com

 


 

Culture

 

15219_MIA_0036

7. Cuba Ocho

“The glamour of this space vindicates and preserves part of Cuba’s history prior to the revolution of 1959,” explains Roberto Ramos, owner and collector of all the works on display in this art gallery with a twist. Twenty years ago, Ramos left the island on a raft with 14 pieces of art and a mission to show the world “the real Cuba.” Celebrating the island’s culture on a daily basis with international book presentations, tango classes and jazz shows, Cuba Ocho is still going strong eight years after its inauguration. In addition to featuring one of the most significant collections of Cuban art in the world, Cuba Ocho also offers more than 460 types of rum.

1465 SW 8th Street Suite 106
www.cubaocho.com

 


 

8. Cultural Fridays

From 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on the last Friday of every month, Little Havana welcomes thousands of visitors to take to the streets and celebrate the richness of its culture. In Maximo Gomez Park, you’ll find stands selling beautiful Cuban folk art and paintings by local talent. Sip on a mojito while you enjoy a pleasant walk through the art galleries: it’s part of a highly recommended ritual for savoring an unforgettable evening on Calle Ocho. Music lovers and those looking to try their salsa moves will enjoy the gifted singers and live bands performing under the stars.

www.viernesculturales.org

 

Featured Articles

Articles by country