Words By: Olee Fowler
Little Havana has long been the epicenter of Cuban cuisine in South Florida. But lately its resurgence has become full blown with brand new restaurants coming into the mix. Here’s your step-by-step guide for tasting some of the Calle Ocho’s best classic eats and some of its newest.
10 a.m. Cafecito at Versailles
For those not familiar with cafecito, its an incredibly strong, but delicious, sweet, thick espresso drink served in a small shot-sized glass. Sure you can find plenty of cafecito spots all around the area but we recommend starting off your day with one at Versailles, an institution as far as Cuban cuisine in South Florida goes. Grab a large serving and head down to the Domino Park and share some with your new friends while joining in on a fun game of dominos, of course.Noon: Frita at El Rey de las Fritas
After all that domino playing we’re sure you’ve worked up an appetite. It’s now time for a frita — another classic Cuban dish that’s hard to find outside of South Florida. It’s a special burger made of seasoned ground beef and pork sandwiched between Cuban bread and topped with shortening potatoes. The long standing El Rey de Las Fritas has been serving this original fare from its 8th Street location for decades now and its frita makes for the perfect lunchtime meal.
2 p.m. Ice Cream at Azucar Ice Cream Company
Now that you’ve feasted on a savory frita, it’s time for dessert! And in Little Havana that means a stop at Azucar Ice Cream Company. The ice cream store has taken the Magic City by storm with its impressive selection of classic and Cuban-inspired ice cream flavors. We suggest trying out its signature Abuela Maria ice cream made with vanilla ice cream, guava swirls, cream cheese and crushed Maria cookies.
4 p.m. Mojito at Ball & Chain
It’s never too early for Happy Hour, right? Head to Ball & Chain for a classic mojito (or two) and take in the ambiance of this legendary establishment. The bar was originally established in 1935 and was a hot spot for musicians like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Chet Baker during its 22-year run. The space re-opened in 2014 with new ownership, but the same classic appeal that made the original such a hit remains, including its rum-filled mojitos.
6 p.m. and beyond Cuban Sandwich at Little Bread
Still hungry? Then swing by Little Bread Cuban Sandwich Co. for its unique twist on the Cuban sandwich. Its incredibly hearty, updated Cuban sandwich features pork rillet, bread-and-butter pickles, red wine mustard, Swiss cheese and — the rather controversial — salami. Controversy or not, it is one decadent and delicious sandwich.