Miami is known for its Cuban origin and culture, and Little Havana is one of those places where you can immerse yourself in the area and discover art, restaurants, entertainment and so much that will keep you busy for a day. whole or more. The captivating areas possess a colorful charm that has attracted legions of tourists and locals seeking to explore Miami’s epicenter of Cuban culture.
The heart and soul of Little Havana is Calle Ocho, dotted with restaurants and entertainment that will have even South Florida’s most seasoned residents finding something new to get excited about. The region has grown considerably in recent years, and while it has never slept, there is something to be said for all of the current combinations of new and classic businesses.
So if you’re looking to spend a day exploring the best things to do on Calle Ocho and Little Havana, this is the ultimate guide to the area’s top restaurants, bars, and other attractions.
Moreover, in light of the continuing catastrophic damage inflicted by Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico, consider donating to the country in this time of need and widespread power outages. Ways to help include supporting local organizations, including Neighbors 4 neighborsand national non-profit organizations, such as Hispanic Federationor consider donating at checkout at your local Publix shop.
Take an art walk down Calle Ocho
Once you’ve found a solid parking spot (there are plenty of spaces on the street and a few public parking lots), it’s time to walk around and check out some of the sights.
Start with the tower theater, an iconic landmark and one of Miami’s most classic buildings. Run by Miami-Dade College and beautifully preserved, the institution opened in December 1926, and it was the first theater of its kind to open in Miami. It still plays independent films and other entertainment offerings, making it a must stop on Calle Ocho.
And how about those colorful roosters? Take a moment to take a look at these sculptures, which began appearing in 2002 as part of a Rooster Walk installation, to represent Miami’s local community and culture. These roosters are a popular addition and you’ll notice many visitors stopping by to take photos and selfies. Make sure you do the same (because you were actually there if not on the ‘gram?).
There is also a selection of art galleries, each with a distinct personality, around Calle Ocho. Highlights include the Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center, where art installations and rotating artists take center stage, along with musical guests and a selection of rum (rum is art, isn’t- right?), And then there is Arts District Cigarsoffering art and cigars you can take home.
The Calle Ocho Walk of Fame is a group of murals celebrating Cuban culture, musicians and personalities from the Latin world. The most famous is that of Celia Cruz, “Queen of Salsa”.
Want to play dominoes or hang out with a bunch of abuelitos? Check dominoes park, which is kind of an art in itself, as you watch players challenge each other with the classic tile game. The bustling place is definitely an interesting stop, and you might even get the chance to go up against one of those friendly grandfathers (however, there’s a good chance you’ll lose).
Taste the Caribbean
Satisfy your craving for Cuban and Latin cuisine while sipping on classic cocktails.
Ball & Chain has become a neighborhood staple. Expect crowds day and night as revelers make their way through the door to learn traditional Latin dances, listen to live music, munch on food (congri donuts are a favorite) and throw good drinks. We recommend their classic mojito, the Ketel One Mule and the popular Guava martini.
Another hot spot is Café La Trova, an upscale restaurant and bar perfect for date nights and dinners with friends. With perfectly mixed drinks, an ethereal ambiance, as well as great food, you’d be hard pressed not to have a great time. The skirt steak and arroz con pollo are killer, and as for the drinks, don’t leave without trying the Papa Doble Hemingway cocktail, the Daiquiri Clasico and the Periodista.
A hidden gem, however, is a wonderful Puerto Rican restaurant with extremely authentic cuisine and local beers such as Medalla and Magna. Known as Restaurant Mofongo’s Calle Ocho, it serves delicious mofongo, stuffed with pork and chicken as well as other proteins, and classic Puerto Rican holiday dishes like arroz con gandules and pasteles. Be sure to try the local Puerto Rican beer and get there early – the place fills up fast.
Calle Ocho but make it fashionable
Expect some serious trendy spots on Calle Ocho, as there are plenty of great stores to stock up on stylish Latin and Cuban staples.
Calle Ocho Plaza has a diverse selection of clothing and souvenir shops. At Little Havana Gift Shop, you can find unique items, many of which were made by local artisans. Feel Cubano sells men’s and women’s guayaberas, art and classic Cuban-inspired gifts. These stores offer more than the mundane souvenirs if you’re someone who wants to take home something unique.
Little Havana is also home to brands inspired by the neighborhood. Lacquer Lights is a nail polish company that offers a polish called Cubana, a rich burnt red inspired by Miami’s Cuban community. And Albisa candles offers a Cuban bread scented candle that you’ve probably smelled all over town. You should probably buy both.
Aurora Dominguez is a contributor to Thrillist.