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City Guide / Miami

Miami Neighborhood Guide: Little Havana

By Angela Caraway-Carlton | Sep 7, 2021

If you’re planning on moving to Miami, Florida, you’re likely trying to figure out the best neighborhoods in Miami, and which one would be the right fit for you. 

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Miami’s Cuban and Hispanic culture, step into the vibrant neighborhood of Little Havana. Home to many Cuban exiles, as well as immigrants from Central and South America, this Florida neighborhood is beloved for its rich history and streets, which are always alive with activity and music. Much of the action happens on the neighborhood’s famous main street, Calle Ocho (8th Street), which is primely lined with restaurants, bars, and shops.

In Little Havana, you’ll find a constant celebration of Cuban heritage, from historic landmarks and monthly festivities to vendors rolling cigars. It’s a place where locals and tourists mingle over strong coffee and competitive domino games. While you’ll see painted rooster statues throughout the neighborhood, don’t be surprised if you see wild roosters running around, too!

Little Havana is also conveniently located nearby other bustling neighborhoods like Brickell and Downtown Miami

If you’re thinking about moving to Little Havana, here’s our guide to the best restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, outdoor attractions, gyms, nightlife, and transportation.

Best restaurants in the area

Little Havana is Miami’s go-to spot for authentic Cuban food and drinks, and you’ll want to create a morning ritual of stopping at one of the many ventanas (walk-up windows) to grab a Cuban coffee. Versailles Restaurant, an iconic Cuban staple that’s been around since 1971, has fantastic coffee, warm empanadas, croquetas, and flaky pastries. 

A solid choice for lunch or dinner is Old’s Havana on Calle Ocho, which has a perfectly executed Cuban sandwich. Those in the know also head to La Camaronera for their fresh and affordable seafood dishes, especially their talked-about fried snapper sandwich served on Cuban bread. 

Little Havana is also now home to upscale restaurants like Café La Trova, where Miami’s beloved Chef Michelle Bernstein takes a contemporary spin on Cuban favorites. We recommend sipping on a refreshing mojito (or two!). 

It’s not all Cuban food in the area, though. You’ll find authentic Mexican food at longtime staple Taquerias El Mexicano, where they make their sauces and tortillas from scratch. Their specialties include enchiladas stuffed with a protein of your choice and an array of tacos. 

People drive from all over South Florida to grab ice cream at Azucar Ice Cream Company, a locally owned ice cream shop serving unique flavors, many of them with a Cuban flair. Don’t miss the Abuela Maria flavor, made with chunks of guava, cream cheese, and crunchy Maria cookies. Or, dig into heavenly churros dusted with cinnamon or filled with dulce de leche at ChurroMania.

Where to get groceries

Grocery shopping in Little Havana means frequenting local gems like El Nuevo Siglo Supermarket, which carries Hispanic cooking staples and has a restaurant tucked inside. This Miami neighborhood is also home to Los Pinareños Fruteria, a family-run, open-air fresh fruit and juice market bursting with juicy fruits like ripe mangos and papaya, sugarcane, coffee, and smoothies.  

You can also stock up on necessities at mainstream grocery chain, Publix Super Market in the Altos Plaza, along with a Presidente Supermarket, a grocery store chain run by a Cuban-American family.

Where to get coffee

Drinking coffee, especially strong Cuban coffee, is a favored pastime in Little Havana, and the real question is, “Where can’t you find coffee?” Even barbershops often offer the chance to caffeinate! Make a morning stop or mid-afternoon refuel at one of the many ventanas, like the aforementioned popular Versailles restaurant, where you’ll want to know the lingo of the different types of coffee. Try a café con leche, an unsweetened espresso served with hot steamed whole milk, or a colada, which is a 4-ounce espresso served with little mini plastic cups meant for sharing. 

For something different, find a table at La Colada Gourmet, where they roast their own beans and create beautiful, gourmet cafecitos and coladas.

Outdoor attractions

Walking around Little Havana is like a history tour. You can check out this Miami neighborhood’s own Calle Ocho walk of fame, featuring the names of Latin stars like Gloria Estefan and Celia Cruz, bright murals, and vibrant painted roosters. One of the most famous outdoor attractions is Maximo Gomez Park, also known as “Domino Park” where retirees and play intense games of dominos, sip coffee, and talk about politics. 

Jose Marti Park, nestled along the Miami River, also offers sports and leisure activities. 

Local gyms and workout spots

If you’re looking for a place to torch calories earned from eating those irresistible croquetas and sandwiches, join gyms like Planet Fitness , Gallo 8 Gym for personal training and group fitness classes, and longtime ThunderGym, which offers fitness for all ages.

Nightlife

Music and entertainment pulse through Little Havana from day into night. One of the area’s best live music venues is the Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center, which also happens to be an excellent place to savor a real-deal mojito. 

One of the most popular hotspots is Ball & Chain, a 1930s nightclub that’s been transformed into a bar and lounge where live music, salsa dancing, and good drinks reign. For a Latin spin on Polynesian culture, meet friends at the tropical tiki bar, Casa Tiki, to sip fun cocktails and attend events ranging from comedic acts and live bands. Little Havana is also edged by The Wharf, an outdoor event space situated on the Miami River that’s known for its live entertainment, numerous bars, and food offerings.

Every third Friday of the month, locals and tourists flood Little Havana for the lively street party, Viernes Culturales, for live performances, art, domino games, cigar rollers, food, and more. 

Other things to do and see

Little Havana is also the place to immerse yourself in arts and culture. Catch an indie flick in English or Spanish at of the oldest cultural landmarks, Miami Dade College’s Tower Theater, which dates back to 1926. Or, check out Futurama 1637 Art Building, a creative workspace that boasts 12 art studios, and the Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center, which houses a rare collection of Cuban art dating from the 1800s to 1959.  

Public transportation, parking, and driving information

Because they’re frequented by tourists, the streets of Little Havana can become very congested, especially during events and celebrations like the monthly Viernes Culturales. The area is very walkable, especially for those who live there and need to run nearby errands along Calle Ocho.

If you’re driving there, look for street parking and parking lots, including near the Cultural District. Most locals have the PayByPhone app on their phone to make paying for parking easy. Residents can also hop on the MetroBus and head into Downtown Miami, and there is also a free trolley service.  

Land in a great apartment in Little Havana

If you like the idea of moving to Little Havana, Landing offers fully furnished apartments with flexible lease terms, concierge services, seamless transfers, and all the amenities you need. Browse our available apartments in Little Havana, or contact us to learn more about how a Landing membership works.

Still looking for the right Miami neighborhood for you? Browse our other Miami neighborhood guides.

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About the author

Angela Caraway-Carlton