I have visited Miami many times in my life because of the many family members on my mom’s side that live there (my mom is from Cuba and Miami is where many Cubans fled after Castro took over). I love visiting Miami because of the connection I feel to my Cuban heritage and everything that comes with it (did someone say mojitos?). This recent trip inspired me to share some of the places we visited throughout our stay. Today’s post focuses on the best known neighborhood for Cuban exiles in the world, Little Havana. Take a look at what I believe to be some of the best places to check out to really get the Cuban experience in Little Havana!
El Gallito: (1551 SW 27th Ave) Authentic Cuban bakery with some of the best pastelitos in Miami and the most delicious cafe con leche I’ve ever had. The prices are unbelievably low. 4 cafe con leches and 1 Cuban coffee cost under $5!!
Versailles: Known as “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant”, Versailles has been serving tasty Cuban food for over 40 years now. The mirror-lined restaurant is often filled with Cuban exile regulars and it is typically politicians first stop when attempting to garner support from the Cuban exile community. They have a large selection of Cuban dishes and a very delicious and fresh mojito. If you don’t have time to sit, you can walk up to their outdoor counter for a coffee or go next door to their bakery that is full of fresh treats.
Sentir Cubano: Located on the corner of Calle 8 and 31st Avenue. Sentir Cubano is a store dedicated to all things Cuba. From domino sets to vintage Cuban artwork, this store has it all. Want the Cuban flag on a shirt? or a blanket? or even a beach towel? They’ve got it. Toilet paper with Fidel’s face on it? It’s there. Feel like getting guayaberas for your entire family? They have them in every size. Whether you want to buy something or not, it’s a wonderful store to look through and get a feel for the Cuban culture.
Maximo Gomez Park: Located on the corner of Calle 8 and 15th Avenue and known by locals as “Domino Park” is the spot where elderly Cubans meet frequently for intense games of dominoes. Albeit small, it is a site not to miss. You’ll know you’re almost there when you begin to hear dominoes clattering and smell Cuban coffee and cigar smoke in the air.
Los Pinarenos Fruteria: This charming, open-air mom and pop juice bar is a must stop while on Calle 8. You can get coconut water straight out of the coconut (literally they just cut it open with a machete and stick a straw in it) or any fruit you want, juiced. The watermelon juice was delicious but you have to try the sugar cane (or “The Cuban Red Bull” as the staff put it)! I did not realize sugar cane could be juiced until coming to this place… very sweet, very delicious and very cheap! Grab a juice and take a seat to really take in the scenery. But watch your step, chickens will occasionally walk through the store and their pet pig hangs out back.
Walkway of the Stars: Artwork dedicated to the many Cuban legends like Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, and Albita Rodriguez. The entire surrounding area is filled with beautiful murals and expressive graffiti.
As you can see Little Havana is full of culture and tourist attractions that cost little to no money to experience. Check back soon for another travel post (this time South Beach!) with tips on where to stay, where to eat, and of course, how to save along the way.
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