Let local Jose Fernandez take you on a stroll down Calle Ocho. He’s got it right when he says the neighborhood itself is a cultural museum, from its hand-rolled cigar shops to its open-air fruit markets. Everywhere you go you’ll be met with the scent of a fresh cortado, and a plate of rice and beans is bound to be steps away — whether you walk or salsa dance your way down the street.
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There’s possibly nothing more Little Havana than this fruit stand. Los Pinareños is the oldest open-air market in Miami. Here you’ll find fresh-made juices and milkshakes flavored with exotic fruits from all the Latin American cultures that have influenced the area. Spoil yourself with a signature treat like their banana cafe batido — a banana milkshake with a shot of Cuban coffee.
Located in the heart of Little Havana, Azucar is Calle Ocho’s resident Cuban artisanal ice cream parlor. Rooted in a deep love for family and inspired by Central and South American tropical fruits, Azucar churns out over 100 different flavors made with all-natural ingredients bought from right down the street at Los Pinareños Frutería. Tip: Try the Abuela Maria — it’s Miami in a cup.
Maximo Gomez Domino Park is where locals get down and dirty at a game of dominoes — and trust us, to them it’s not a game. Nostalgia hangs in the air just as potently as the smell of a cortado. Here you’ll typically find older Cubans dealing dotted tiles over coffee and social commentary. But don’t let their age fool you, these seasoned professionals are fierce.
On the last Friday of every month, Little Havana hosts Viernes Culturales, or Cultural Fridays. As a cultural center, the neighborhood acts as a kind of hub for international artists seeking to showcase their backgrounds. Viernes Culturales gives local art shops, galleries and music venues the opportunity to celebrate the area’s rich culture and the voices of Latin America — oh, and it’s free.
Cubaocho is a little bit of everything. By day, the cultural center acts a gallery and library for curious locals seeking to delve into Cuban history, and it doubles as a bar and lounge by night. It’s adorned top to bottom with local artwork and is always boasting live music. You’ll find locals grabbing a mojito (they’ve got an extensive collection of rum) or a cigar at the bar and taking it to the outdoor patio.
Serving up Cuban culture and cuisine since 1971, this place is a true Miami landmark. Versailles is where the locals take out-of-towners to experience a taste of authentic Latin American flavor and grab their own cafecito at the outdoor coffee window. Consider Versailles a town square of the Cuban exile community — there’s nothing like pairing political commentary with a fresh croqueta.
As one of the oldest Cuban families in the tobacco industry, the Bello family has generations of passion and expertise behind the art of cigar rolling dating back to 1896. Cuban Tobacco Cigar Co., aptly located on Calle Ocho, exclusively sells their own tobacco blends they cultivate and cure themselves. You’ll usually find the family patriarch Pedro Bello enjoying his own cigar outside.
Originally established in 1935 and boasting performances by legendary musical acts like Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole, Ball & Chain continues to serve up some of the best in Miami’s live music scene. The venue has two stages, one designated for its jazz-based roots and one for its more salsa dancing inclined regulars. They also dish out Latin-inspired tapas and cocktails at the bar.
Hoy Como Ayer translates to “Today as yesterday,” and like its name, the live music venue boasts acts celebrating rich cultural histories. The space may be small but it’s got a humongous heart set to the rhythm of a Cuban beat. You’ll find legendary musicians from all over Latin America playing at this nostalgic spot, along with a condensed menu devoted to their live well, eat well philosophy.