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I ATE • Little Havana, A Culinary Tour of Miami’s Cuban District

March 29, 2012 by Joan Nova in "Foodie" Activities, Florida, Food Tours, Latin, Photography, Travel | 15 Comments

Miami is a mosaic of many jewels with wildly contrasting and colorful facets. There’s tropical Coconut Grove, urban Midtown, trendy South Beach, architecturally-beautiful Coral Gables, and Little Haiti to name just a few.

And, there’s Little Havana!

This area became known as Little Havana in the 1960s when many Cubans, fleeing the Castro regime, located there. As the decades passed, Spanish-speaking immigrants from many countries also moved into the neighborhood — and a good number of those original Cuban families or their descendants have moved to other areas of FL. But, it remains predominantly Cuban and no where is it more evident than along Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street), the heart of Little Havana.

I joined a Miami-based culinary tour company on one of their Saturday outings which lasted about 3 hours. The guide took the group (mostly tourists but a few FL residents too) up and down the street, introducing us to people, narrating the history of Little Havana and adding amusing side stories. We visited galleries, monuments, markets and cigar makers.

And, in between, we stopped for tasty bites here and there.

L-R: Plantain cups stuffed with picadillo (beef) and chicken criolla at El Pub; ice cream at Azucar (I picked cinnamon w/oatmeal cookie); media noche sandwich at El Exquisito; and guava pastries at Yisil Bakery.

At one of our stops, we each got a thimbleful of super sweet Cuban coffee. That’s the way they serve it — and that’s all you need.  I  posed it with 8 oz. glass of water to show size differential.

We also stopped at an open-air fruit and vegetable market where our guide served us a taste of freshly made guarapo juice.

If you’re planning a trip to South Florida, this is a good way to learn about the Cuban influence and have lunch at the same time. If you’re a resident, it’s a nice way to pass an afternoon — especially if you’re not familiar with Little Havana. For more information about tours, contact Miami Culinary Tours, Email: info @ miamiculinarytours.com.

A Word About Street Photography
Pointing your camera at strangers and/or taking pictures of their homes, possessions, and businesses can be an intimidating experience. However, when you’re on tour like this, it is accepted — perhaps even welcomed! I don’t know if I would have had the nerve to walk into the center of Domino Park alone and start photographing people as they idled away the day playing Dominoes. But I did when our guide took us there — and it gave me the confidence to continue photographing around town when the tour ended.

Here’s a ‘taste’ of Little Havana in a quick-paced 32 photo slideshow. These embedded slideshows sometimes get a little sticky. You can also view the full photoset (121 photos) on flickr and click on thumbnails for larger photos.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!

15 Comments

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  1. bellini says:

    I love to find these food tours when available wherever I go. I love Havana Cuba and would love to go again.

  2. Katie says:

    Beautiful lighting and composition in these photos, Joan! I’m even more impressed given that many of these were shot on the fly. I agree that street photography is one of the more challenging genres, and sometimes it’s really hard to work up the courage to photograph strangers. Thanks for the virtual tour!
    Katie recently posted..Butternut Squash and Ricotta Gnocchi, Two Ways | Ñoquis de Zapallo y Ricota, Servido de Dos ManerasMy Profile

  3. Heidi Leon says:

    Que rico tour!. I love to discover a new place by its food and if it that implies Cuban and Latino food then I´m in heaven.

    I wish I had been there with you enjoying that medianoche y un café cubano. (sigh).

  4. Your opening line is just perfect and the photos make you feel like you are there. In fact, you caused a twinge of homesickness in me! I am, however, stuck on the plantain “bowls,” trying to figure out how to duplicate them. I can think of lots of ways to fill them Latino-style. Wonderful post, Joan. Wonderful! And very evocative photos–that one of the cigar-making is particularly gorgeous to me.
    Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Baked Crêpes Cacciatore with Parmesan Cream SauceMy Profile

  5. You made me feel as if I was with you having un cortadito. Great tour and fantastic pictures.

  6. It was a fun afternoon with so much atmosphere. You captured the essence of Little Havana.
    Patricia Durr recently posted..A Frosted Taralli, Charmel are an Easter SpecialtyMy Profile

  7. Laz says:

    Fantastic photos. Sounds like a fabulous tour. Good job of making my city look good.

    Glad you had a good time.

  8. Mary says:

    That tour should be a model for other cities that have ethnic neighborhoods. The food looks wonderful. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  9. Joan, I’d love to visit you sometime. You seem to have the most fun life. Nashville is boring. I would love some Cuban flair. I miss California so so much. I miss diversity.
    angela@spinachtiger recently posted..Savory Chive Cheesecake with Potato Chips CrustMy Profile

  10. Peter says:

    What a wonderful postcard you’ve shared. Lots to see, do and eat and yeah…I’d have a cigar too!
    Peter recently posted..Quick Cauliflower ToursiMy Profile

  11. Fantastic, Joan! Thanks for sharing my hometown as well. I can’t wait to be in Miami next week… It’s the only time when I get to be ultra, ultra Cuban! I love being around my people and our culture in a mostly authentic environment. The little Chinita playing dominoes is lovely!

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  1. [...] slideshow – this one on the Little Havana Food Tour – and then I read the blog post from Joan on Foodalogue (what a great site btw).  See Joan’s fabulous slideshow [...]

  2. […] Miami Culinary Tours. As you may recall, I’ve written about their Little Havana and South Beach tours, both of which are thoroughly enjoyable, so I was thrilled when they recently […]

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