Coming from Florida, I have passed through Miami several times. Similarly to the way I divided New York into posts about Queens & Brooklyn and Mahattan, I decided to divide Miami into multiple posts. The previous posts covered Miami Beach and Wynwood, and this one will cover the Downtown Miami and Little Havana.
What I did:
Walked Calle Ocho-
Miami is the second most international city in North America (behind Toronto). Due to its locations and the political history between the US and Cuba, there are a large number of Cuban immigrants and descendents living in the Miami area. Calle Ocho (SW 8th St.) has become a Cuban cultural hub. It is a cool place to walk through and there are many good food options there as well.
Got a Spanish Visa-
The US Southeastern headquarters for the Spanish consulate is located in Miami. I went to an appointment there to obtain my visa to move to Spain.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens-
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a large property with beautiful mansion and garden. It is worth checking out if you are in the area. Also, parts of the Will Smith and Martin Lawerence blockbuster Bad Boys II was filmed here, as well as parts of other movies including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Any Given Sunday, and Iron Man 3.
Where I ate and drank:
Versailles Restaurant (Little Havana)-
Versailles is a local, Cuban place that serves great Cuban food. As one of the most famous Cuban restaurants in the world, it is worth a visit when in Little Havana.
Lulu's Nitrogen Ice Cream (Downtown)-
Lulu's is a cool spot that uses quality, locally sourced ingredients to make its ice cream. They make the ice cream right in front of you using liquid nitrogen. They offer a variety of tasty classic and seasonal flavors.
Azucar Ice Cream Factory (Little Havana)-
Azucar Ice Cream Factory is a great and very tasty ice cream place located on Calle Ocho. They offer a number of signature flavors, including their famous "Abuela Maria," as well as a number of classic flavors, sorbets, and seasonal flavors.
Ms. Cheezious (Downtown)-
Ms. Cheezious started as a food truck and has since grown to have a brick and mortar location. They offer a variety of tasty grilled cheese sandwiches, and also serve craft beers, wines, and nitro coffee from Relentless Roasters Coffee.
Ball & Chain (Little Havana)-
Ball & Chain is an awesome Cuban spot on Calle Ocho. They serve authentic Cuban food and drink (some drink even come with Cuban tobacco in them). They often play live Cuban and jazz music. They also offer salsa dancing opportunities and even offer free salsa dancing classes on select nights.
Coyo Taco (Downtown)-
Coyo Taco offers great Mexican food in the Miami area. They have locations in Wynwood and in Brickell. I visited their Brickell location. In addition to the many good options on their regular menu, they also offer some good options on their breakfast/brunch menu offered Saturday and Sunday mornings.
All Day Coffee and Eggs (Downtown)-
All Day Coffee and Eggs offers up a great selection of coffees including their excellent nitro cold brew coffee. While I would still prefer Panther Coffee in the general Miami area, the nitro cold brew coffee I had at All Day Coffee is the best cup of coffee I have had in downtown Miami.
El Carajo (Downtown)-
The word "carajo" has become a cuss word in the Spanish language. However, it actually refers to the mast of a ship where crewmen would stand to look for land. Due to its location, it would make many sailors sick and sailors would sometimes be punished by being sent to the "carajo." This has led to its use as a negative cuss word for something very bad. However, if a sailor were able to go to the "carajo" and not get sick, they were seen as being very strong. This has led to its use as a positive cuss word for something very good, but it is used this way less often. The El Carajo restaurant is a Spanish tapas restaurant and wine bar interestingly located inside a gas station. The name is interesting, the location is interesting, and the food is excellent.
Threefold Cafe (Downtown)-
Threefold Cafe is a quality cafe with various quality, healthy food options.
El Palacio de los Jugos (Downtown)-
El Palacio de los Jugos has a few locations in the Miami area. They offer a variety of Latin American foods. The food comes with big portions and inexpensive prices. It is a great place to go if you are very hungry.
Where I stayed:
SoBe Hostel (Miami Beach)-
While not the cheapest, SoBe Hostel is on the cheaper end of hostels in Miami Beach. It is slightly more of a party hostel than I would prefer. They offer a free hostel dinner, but it is very basic. There is also a hostel bar with a limited selection, and a very good ceviche restaurant next door to the hostel.
How I got around:
To see how I got around the Miami area, check out my post on Miami Beach.
My favorite thing:
Little Havana has some very interesing Cuban culture and food, and I enjoyed the opportunity to experience it.
My least favorite thing:
There is not much to dislike about the area. If I had to pick something, similar to the Wynwood area, there are not as many good accomodation options downtown or in Little Havana as there are in Miami Beach.
For next time:
Next time in the area I would like to spend more time downtown, as I have not spent much time there. I would also like to try the salsa lessons at Ball & Chain.
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