The Cuban Cafecito: Florida's Little Jolt of Inspiration
Miami looks and sounds like the United Nations. We hail from Cuba, Haiti, Latin America -- and plenty of U.S. cities, too.
At Calle Ocho in Little Havana, expect no Gucci shops or blonde models. This is where we keep the real Miami, the cigar-rolling, coffee-drinking, domino-playing variety. If you address someone in English and they answer you with a puzzled look and a Spanish response, don't take it personally. It's a Miami thing. Just dive in.
Lunch at La Carreta, 3632 SW 8th St., where you can have a Cuban sandwich or pulled pork. Stop at Versailles Restaurant, 3555 SW 8th St., the unofficial Cuban exile headquarters, for café con leche. But do it our way: on your feet at the outdoor window, where you can get the pulse of the neighborhood.
Watch cigars being made at Credito Cigar Factory, 1105 SW 8th St., then stroll past Maximo Gomez Park, 801 SW 15th Ave., where the old-timers play their favorite game: dominoes.
If you've worked up a thirst and are truly brave, drive to Palacio de los Jugos (Juice Palace), 5721 W Flagler St., where you can find fresh tropical juice smoothies and a freshly roasted pig in a chaotic outdoor setting. Don't worry, they're not screaming at you.
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