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.