The Ultimate Guide to Little Havana’s Thriving Latinx Community

Celebrate Latinx heritage in Miami’s epicenter of Cuban culture.

Miami is known for its Cuban background and culture, and Little Havana is one of those places where you can immerse yourself in the area and discover art, dining, entertainment, and so many things that will keep you busy for a full day or more. The captivating neighborhood boasts colorful charm that has attracted legions of tourists and locals seeking to explore the epicenter of Miami Cuban culture.

Little Havana’s heart and soul is Calle Ocho, peppered with restaurants and entertainment sure to make even the most seasoned South Florida resident find something new to get excited about. The area has significantly grown in the past few years, and while it was never sleepy, there’s something to be said about all the current combination 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 top restaurants, bars, and other attractions in the area.

Additionally, in light of the catastrophic and ongoing damage inflicted by Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico, consider donating to the country during this time of need and widespread power outages. Ways to help include supporting local organizations, including Neighbors 4 Neighbors, and national nonprofits, such as Hispanic Federation, or consider making a donation at checkout at your local Publix store.

Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center
Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center

Take an Artsy Walk Through Calle Ocho

Once you find a solid parking spot (there are plenty of street spots and some public parking), it’s time to wander and to 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 first opened its doors December of 1926, and it was the first theater of its kind to open in Miami. It still shows independent films and other entertaining offerings, making it an essential stop on Calle Ocho.

And, how about those colorful roosters? Take a moment to peek at these sculptures, which started to appear in 2002 as part of a Rooster Walk installation, to represent the local community and Miami’s culture. These roosters are a popular addition, and you will notice a lot of visitors stopping by to take pictures and selfies. Make sure to do the same (because were you actually there if it’s not on the ‘gram?).

There are also a selection of art galleries, each with a distinct personality, around Calle Ocho. Highlights include the Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center, where rotating art installations and artists take center stage, as well as musical guests and a selection of rum (rum is art, right?), and then there’s Art District Cigars, offering art and cigars that you can take home.

The Calle Ocho Walk of Fame is group of murals celebrating Cuban culture, musicians, and prominent figures from the Latin world. The most famous is the one of Celia Cruz, "Queen of Salsa."

Want to play Dominoes or hang out with a bunch of abuelitos? Check out Domino Park, which is kind of an art on its own, as you watch players challenging each other with the classic tile game. The vibrant spot is definitely a worthwhile stop, and you might even get the chance to take on one of these friendly grandpas (though, there’s a good chance you’ll lose).

Cafe La Trova
Cafe La Trova

Get a taste of the Caribbean

Fill your craving for Cuban and Latin food while sipping on classic cocktails.

Ball & Chain has become a solid neighborhood staple. Expect a crowd, day, and night, as revelers shimmy their way through the door to learn traditional Latin dances, listen to live music, snack on food (the congri fritters are a favorite), and throw back good drinks. We recommend their classic mojito, the Ketel One Mule, and the popular Guava martini.

Another hotspot is Café La Trova, an upscale bar and restaurant that's perfect for date nights and evening dinners with friends. Featuring perfectly mixed drinks, ethereal ambiance, as well as great food, you’d be hard pressed to not have a great time. The skirt steak and arroz con pollo are killer, and as for drinks, do not leave without trying out the Papa Doble Hemingway Cocktail, Daiquiri Clasico, and Periodista.

One hidden gem, though, is a wonderful Puerto Rican restaurant with extremely authentic food and homegrown beers such as Medalla and Magna. Known as Mofongo’s Restaurant Calle Ocho, it serves delicious mofongo, stuffed with pork and chicken as well as other proteins, and classic Puerto Rican holiday platters like arroz con gandules and pasteles. Make sure to try the local Puerto Rican beer and arrive early—the spot fills up quickly.

Albisa Candles
Albisa Candles

Calle Ocho but Make it Fashion

Expect some serious fashionable spots on Calle Ocho, as there are a bunch of great shops to stock up on stylish Latin and Cuban staples.

Calle Ocho Plaza features a diverse selection of stores with clothing and souvenirs. At Little Havana Gift Shop, you can find unique items, many of which have been made by local artisans. Sentir Cubano sells guayaberas for men and women, art, and classic Cuban-inspired gifts. These stores offer more than just your run-of-the mill souvenirs if you’re someone that wants to take something unique home.

Little Havana is also home to brands that have been inspired by the by the neighborhood. Lights Laquer is nail polish company that features 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 been smelling all around town. You should probably buy both.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Aurora Dominguez is a contributor at Thrillist.