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Little Havana/Calle Ocho Travel Guide

Glenn Lindgren: 25 years ago Calle Ocho was still vibrant and alive with the sights and sounds of Cuban culture. There were many restaurants, little shops, Cuban meat markets, and fruit stores. There were places to buy Cuban music, places to buy herbs and miracle cures (botánicas) and of course, several cigar factories. Most impressive was the energy and the activity all along the street.
Raúl Musibay: Cubans rightfully view Little Havana with pride -- it is where many started their new lives here in the United States. However, over the years, the street lost a lot of its energy. Many Cubans moved out to Hialeah, Kendall, and Westchester. Many never or only rarely returned to what was once THE Cuban place in Miami. With the exodus, some of the life blood was drained from Little Havana. Shops and restaurants closed. Historic buildings were torn down and replaced with fast food restaurants. Much of what should have been preserved is now lost.
Jorge Castillo: After years of neglect things are starting to happen with new developments that hopefully will revitalize the area and make it more interesting and attractive for tourists and locals alike. Calle Ocho is coming alive again and we all have great hopes for the future!
Calle Street
Glenn Lindgren: Today's Calle Ocho presents a real dilemma for most tourists. It's not like Little Italy in New York or Chinatown in San Francisco, where everywhere you look there is one tourist attraction or another. However, if you like a little travel adventure, there are a several little gems here and there on Calle Ocho that are definitely worth exploring.

Raúl Musibay: The guidebooks will tell you that the heart of Little Havana is on Calle Ocho between 14th and 18th Avenues. But Little Havana actually stretches from 27th Avenue all the way downtown to 4th avenue. If all you see in Little Havana is Domino Park and your favorite cigar store, you're missing out on the real Little Havana.

Los Pinareños Frutería serves the best guarapo (sugar cane juice) in Little Havana. There's a small table inside where you can sit down and eat some great tamales, or sample the ever-changing lunch special, a bargain at $5.00. Or just step up to the walk-up window for an inexpensive cafecito.
Glenn Lindgren: If you really want to experience Little Havana, you'll need a car to see all of the sights. Some day the city will wake up and create a special Little Havana Trolley for tourists -- making it easy to jump on and off when you see something that catches your interest. In the meantime, there is a mini-bus route for the car-less traveler. The Little Havana Circulator runs every 20 minutes from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. Calle Ocho is a one-way street, so when you get to I-95 you'll have to stay on the loop around the Government Center, back out Flagler and then back to the start on 27th again, a LONG ride. See what we mean about how nice a trolley would be?

Raúl Musibay: The best way to see Little Havana? Why not start with breakfast or lunch in one of many excellent restaurants? Then you can walk and drive around and visit nearby places -- Domino Park, the art galleries, souvenir stores, or a cigar factory.

Jorge Castillo: Over the years Calle Ocho has seen an influx of other Latin cultures. There are a lot of people and businesses from Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

Raúl Musibay: They even started calling part of the Calle Ocho the "Latin Quarter" to reflect these changes.

Glenn Lindgren: The mingling of cultures is very much a Miami thing. What I like best is the opportunity to taste some of the great foods from other Latin American cultures. You'll find several places in Little Havana now serving Nicaraguan and Salvadoran food.

Jorge Castillo: It's a great melting pot of various cuisines.

Jorge Castillo poses with one of the locals.
Bud Wall
Glenn and Tony
Jorge and Fruit
Glenn Lindgren poses with artist Tony Mendoza.
Glenn and Jorge at the Fruit Market
Shopping for tropical fruits at Los Pinareños Frutería. Jorge and Glenn stock up on some real bargains.
Calle Ocho: Culture

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Little Havana has always been much larger than many people – whose vision of this area has never stretched farther than a couple of blocks north or south of Calle Ocho – have imagined.

Instead of one monolithic area, Little Havana comprises several neighborhoods including those south of Calle Ocho where Cubans live in the residential areas of Shenandoah and Silver Bluff.

There's More! Read On:

Calle Ocho | Calle Ocho Culture | Calle Ocho Restaurants

Calle Ocho Shopping | Calle Ocho Artists | Calle Ocho Sights

This new Kindle version contains all of the recipes and editorial copy from the original print edition. As a bonus, the new Kindle edition includes 24 new photos of the prepared dishes.



This new Kindle version contains all of the recipes and editorial copy from the original print edition. As a bonus, the new Kindle edition includes 14 new photos of the prepared dishes.


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