Havana moon…


It’s been 30 years since we lived in South Florida and while a lot has changed (more people, more traffic, more buildings) an awful lot has stayed the same (the beautiful scenery, delicious food, and incredible cosmopolitan vibe).  We used the Miami Punk Rock High School Reunion as an excuse to get away for a week and relive our youth…

After arriving at our Coconut Grove cottage rental late Monday night we immediately headed out to Versailles Restaurant.  Back in the day many an evening started with a cup of cuban coffee so it felt right to begin our vacation by repeating the ritual again (this time accompanied by a Cubano sandwich, Tostones, Palamino Steak, and homemade Sangria).

First – but not last – cubano

The next morning we woke to a perfect South Florida day – not a cloud in the sky, no humidity and temps in the low 80’s.

Vibrantly lush vegetation

We decided we should spend one day playing tourists and so we purchased tickets for the Little Havana Food Tour. What could be better for a couple of foodies than to spend a few hours eating authentic cuban fare while soaking up the ambiance of 8th Avenue?

On your mark…get set…tour
Hand-painted lamps by the Cubaocho owner/artist/bon viviant

Our tour began at the Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center where we were introduced to our guide, an ex-stewardess with a Russian accent that I nicknamed Natasha.  She spent a LOT of the tour telling us about her Latin lover, which became comic as the tour progressed.  I think we learned more about him and his family (like their strange habit of throwing vodka on the floor to honor a saint) then we did about the actual customs and history Little Havana.

Look up! Look down!  Tiles are EVERYWHERE
Madonna and child guarding the fisherman (and cigar rollers)
The rules of Club Del Domino

My favorite foods and drinks were the cubano sandwiches at Old’s Havana Restaurant, the refreshing mojitos and music at Ball & Chain, and the mouth-watering homemade ice cream from Azucar.  I also enjoyed watching the players at Maximo Gomez Park, where I was transfixed by an old lady beating the men at a fast-moving game of dominos, and by the watching an the old guy hustling passerby into buying his orgánica maní cubano. I even discussed Cuban politics with a Havana Bay of Pigs survivor over afternoon coffee. It doesn’t get more Little Havana than that!

Jamming at Ball & Chain
Ladies of the Street(art) – Delvs & Didi
Lemons and oranges ready to be made in delicious jugos

Russian tour guide aside, I highly recommend taking one of the Miami Culinary Tours if you are looking for a fun, and tasty, way to spend a few hours during your next trip to Miami.

Next up….the beach day, german food, and an epic bookstore in the Gables!

*Havana Moon – Taj Mahal, Jon Cleary, &  the Phantom Blues Band

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