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Calle Ocho in Little Havana, Miami

The stretch of Southwest 8th Street, known as Calle Ocho, is the area's main artery. Calle Ocho gives visitors a glimpse of what Cuban life, art, architecture and culture is throughout this Little Havana neighborhood in Miami.

A stroll along it will take you past monuments to Cuban independence, colorful murals, you can watch cigars being rolled, walk-up windows selling Cuban street food and fabulous coffees.

Along the streets you can see stars in the Walk of Fame. And, of course, you, can get yourself a Cuban fedora and a colorful Guayabera, which is the traditional piece of menswear, the shirt that is distinguished by its four front pockets and two vertical stripes of pleating and/or embroidery. And all the while Cuban music fills the streets.

I thought this was a great piece of artwork featuring a Guayabera made out of cigar box lids. Seen inside Rooster Alley.

A great place to set your GPS when visiting Little Havana is Máximo Gómez Park, more affectionately known as Domino Park by the locals.

There is also a memorial park for the Bay of Pigs. The Bay of Pigs was a failed US operation during the Kennedy Administration on the southwestern coast of Cuba in 1961 by Cuban exiles who opposed Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution, covertly financed by the US government.

Named after General Máximo Gómez, a Cuban revolutionary, this is a social spot popular with locals. At any time of day, you will find the regulars sipping Cuban coffee, playing dominoes and chess and chatting with friends. A tradition for more than 50 years, gameplay at the park is serious and fun to watch. The games were originally played on the same property, then just an empty lot.

Games are typically for members only. Anyone over 50 with a Maximo Gόmez Domino Club card has free, lifetime membership to play here and the players don’t mind an audience. The small park features walkways of domino-decorated tilework and a perimeter lined with benches for spectators.

There is a painted mural along the inside of the park that was created by Dominican artist Oscar Thomas, depicting the presidents of all American nations that attended the first Summit of the Americas, held in Miami in 1994.

As you walk throughout the streets, you get the feeling that time passed right over the entire neighborhood. From the iconic art, art-deco architecture and even some old cars parked in a yard that you find if you go thru a hidden alley.

Lots to find and admire and a great way to spend an afternoon. We had a little sampler of a Cuban sandwich at the PartyCake Bakery which was excellent. Ham, cheese and mustard on a sweet roll. They had them in every shape & size.

Keep your eyes open for all of the roosters, real and fake. Lots of fiberglass birds are part of “Rooster Walk,” a project that aimed to build on efforts to celebrate the neighborhood's culture. A lot of stores sell roosters--rooster shirts, coffee pots and jewelry. And you can hear the roosters crowing as you walk along the street.

And of course, no trip to the area is complete unless you go to the Versailles Restaurant about a mile away.

Great authentic Cuban food. I went with the sampler platter called the Criollo. It had a little bit of everything including Yellow Rice, Black Beans, “Ropa Vieja” Shredded Beef in Tomato Sauce, Fried Pork Chunks, Ham Croquette, Sweet Plantains, Cuban Tamale, and Cassava with Cuban Mojo. It was lovely!

Nice time!!


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