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Weekend Getaways: Havana Bound

Miami’s Little Havana began filling with Cuban exiles in the 1960s, and over the decades the neighborhood west of downtown Miami has become the epicenter of Cuban-American culture. Centered around Southwest Eighth Street, or Calle Ocho, the district offers some of the hottest salsa music, rum bars and cigar shops on the east coast.


Where to Eat

Offshoots of Versailles (3555 SW Eighth St., Miami; (305) 444-0240; versaillesrestaurant.com) have popped up across Miami, but this is the original Cuban food hotspot. Its dining room has an old-school opulence—think chandeliers, etched mirrors and stone statuary—that still manages to be casual. Customers come for the Cuban sandwiches, the pastelitos and the strong Cuban coffee.

In the mood for something sweet? Azucar (1503 SW Eighth St., Miami; (305) 381-0369) is an artisanal ice cream and sorbet shop that pulls its flavor inspirations from local culture. Many of the ingredients, like sugarcane and mamey, are sourced from nearby fruit vendors. The Abuela Maria, named for the classic cookies from Goya, and the Platano Maduro, made with sweet plantains, are crowd favorites. 


Where to Drink 

The upscale atmosphere of Café La Trova (971 SW Eighth St., Miami; (786) 615-4379; cafelatrova.com) pays homage to pre-revolution Cuba with a cocktail menu that highlights Havana’s glamorous past. Try the Hotel Nacional, a blend of pineapple rum, apricot liqueur, pineapple juice and lime, or the Hemingway Special made with rum, maraschino cherry juice, grapefruit juice and lime.

Looking for something more adventurous? Seek out Los Altos (521 SW Eighth St., Miami; (305) 874-7414; losaltosmiami.com), a lushly decorated speakeasy hidden behind a Mexican candy store. The cocktail list is more Mexican-influenced than Cuban, with tequila and mescal options, but one sip and you won’t mind.


Miami, FL, USA – May 23, 2014: One street performer performing on the street – little havana

Where to Listen 

Little Havana offers some of the best live music venues in Miami. Ball & Chain (1513 SW Eighth St., Miami; (305) 643-7820; ballandchainmiami.com) regularly tops the list with its live salsa, mambo and jazz music. The hotspot has a storied past that dates back to 1935, and in previous incarnations, it welcomed music legends like Billie Holiday and Count Basie.

Little Havana offers some of the best live music venues in Miami. The Cubaocho Museum and Performing Arts Center (1465 SW Eighth St., Miami; (305) 285-5880; cubaocho.com) features live Latin music, dancing and one of the most well-stocked rum bars in Miami.

Hoy Como Ayer (2212 SW Eighth St., Miami; (305) 381-0042; hoycomoayer.business.site) has live acts featuring modern and nostalgic Cuban tunes. Come ready to dance.


Where to Smoke a Cigar

With its dim lighting, plush leather seating and shiny brass fixtures, Art District Cigars (1638 SW Eighth St., Miami; (305) 644-0444; artdistrictcigars.webs.com) has an old-world smoking club vibe. The shop features a range of popular cigar brands, plus local specialties like the Canimao, which is handmade in Miami. It’s BYOB, so be sure to pack a bottle of good rum. And don’t forget the GETTY limes.

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