Cuba And Beyond: Where To Experience Latin Flavor In Miami

ball and chain

Live music at Ball and Chain in Little Havana

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By: Shane Benowitz

Miami is synonymous with Latin flavor, from strong and sweet mojitos to sizzling salsa moves. While Cuban culture dominates, Miami is composed of a melting pot of people from across Latin America and the Caribbean. This diverse population brings with it an electric nightlife scene. From dance clubs to music halls, cocktail lounges and buzzy restaurants, here are a few hot spots to get a taste of Miami’s Latin flavor on a night out on the town.

Little Havana

Ball & Chain

The historic Ball & Chain bar and music hall was recently revived after sitting dormant for decades. Famous for its 1950s heyday when the likes of Count Basie, Billie Holiday and Chet Baker once performed there, Ball & Chain is back, reinvigorating the nightlife scene on Little Havana’s Calle Ocho. The venue is designed with wood-paneled walls, green leather banquettes and lush palm fronds, along with a spacious back patio. Live music is the focal point with acts ranging from Latin house DJs, salsa and live jazz. Expect expertly mixed mojitos here by Cuban mixology impresario Julio Cabrera. A tapas menu is also available, once you’ve worked up an appetite on the dance floor.

CubaOcho
CubaOcho

Cuba Ocho

The CubaOcho Museum & Performing Arts Center is a true Little Havana treasure. By day, explore the collection of antique artwork and furniture from the 19th to mid-20th century. Ask the owner to show you pieces that Frank Sinatra formerly owned. It’s a place for locals to congregate over cigars in the outdoor courtyard and to quaff rum at the wooden bar—arguably the most extensive rum bar in Miami. Weekend evenings come alive with live music ranging from jazz to salsa and everything in between. Cut a rug or watch the locals shimmy in this intimate setting.

Hoy Como Ayer

After quietly closing during summer 2019, Hoy Como Ayer returned to Little Havana in October, reclaiming its mantle as a legendary Latin nightclub. You’ll find live music, strong rum and, yes, dancing at this institution. Reserve a table and prepare to be entertained by an evening filled with anything from a seven-piece band to a soulful crooner. You won’t be seated long as the rhythms of salsa and rumba gets you on your feet and dancing. If names like Celia Cruz and Benny More don’t ring a bell, then you’ll get an education in the Cuban music greats here.

Downtown Miami/Brickell

El Tucán

Situated in the heart of Brickell, El Tucán is part-supper club, part-late night dance party with a sultry, tropical setting. Dishing up global cuisine and creative cocktails in the beginning of the evening, the energy amps up into the night as open format DJs spin their sets and gets the crowd on the dance floor. Inspired by 1950s dance halls in Havana, the vibe has a decidedly Latin flair!

Wynwood

Bar at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
Bar at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

In the heart of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is an ideal stop day or night. Surrounded by the monumental Wynwood Walls, an outdoor museum of the streets featuring works by the world’s most talented mural artists, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar serves up an eclectic menu of small plates and creative cocktails with a Latin twist. Grab a seat outside amidst the Walls or pull up a chair at the bar, which has been decorated by acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey. Order up beef empanadas, gooey queso fresco taqueños and tuna tartare with avocado crème fraiche.

South Beach

Bodega Taqueria and Tequila
Bodega Taqueria and Tequila

Bodega

It’s not all Cuban food and music when it comes to Latin flavor in Miami. In fact, Mexican food and taquerias have become increasingly popular. At Bodega on South Beach, tacos come with a twist. The food truck-like façade is a front for a secret speakeasy nightclub. Specializing in tequila cocktails, this club has an approachable, yet high-energy vibe with late night dancing to live DJs. And remember, when hunger strikes, the taco stand is right outside!

Mango’s Tropical Cafe

In South Beach on legendary Ocean Drive, Mango’s Tropical Café is one of those Miami experiences everyone has to experience at least once. Step inside to the sounds of salsa and flamenco music and, chances are, a woman bedecked in ruffles and a full headdress will be tangoing on the bar with a man in skintight sequin pants. Order a piña colada and enjoy the show or hop on the dance floor to try out your own moves.

YUCA Restaurant

YUCA, an acronym for Young Urban Cuban-Americans, serves up contemporary Cuban and Nuevo Latino dishes at this stylish restaurant on Lincoln Road with ample outdoor seating. Expect an upscale, gourmet twist on classic Cuban dishes, such as the Croquetas De La Abuela, made with truffles, béchamel and Serrano ham, guava barbecue ribs and pan-fried corvina fish with a spicy tomato fondue. An upstairs ballroom hosts salsa lessons and live performances throughout the week with live musicians or a DJ. The floor-to-ceiling windows peer out on passersby on Lincoln Road and the Miami night sky for an inspiring setting to try your moves.

Read More:

11 Latin Dishes You Must Eat in Miami
Where To Find The Best Mojitos In Miami
Where to Go Salsa Dancing in Miami
Undeniably Latin: Explore 12 Historic Sites In Little Havana

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