Nestled in the heart of the vibrant city of Miami, Little Havana stands apart from the typical urban landscape and offers a unique glimpse into Cuban culture. Indeed, if you’ve ever visited Cuba’s capital, you’ll recognize the essence of La Habana here. And what better way to explore the history and traditions of this distinctive Florida community than through a Little Havana food tour? Miami Culinary Tours offers a delicious cultural journey through the mythical neighborhood, which includes gourmet tastings and meetings with locals. It’s truly one of the best tours in Little Havana!
From the scent of cafecito to the salsa rhythms emanating from local businesses, Little Havana is a celebration of Miami’s Cuban diaspora, which makes up over 30% of the city’s population – a significant number that undoubtedly contributes to the authenticity of the Cuban heritage that pulsates through the pastel walls of Little Havana and its food scene.
What food is Little Havana known for? Its coffee, of course!
The quintessential Cuban coffee awaits us at the outdoor bar of El Pub restaurant.
This prized elixir is similar to espresso but has a robust, sweeter flavor with a slightly creamier texture. It’s the result of a traditional preparation in which the beans and sugar are mixed during the brewing process-and it’s delicious! Next, we sample a Cuban culinary staple, the picadillo empanada. This savory pastry contains a tasty mix of ground meat, olives and spices wrapped in a golden, flaky crust.
The guide of our Little Havana food tour, who is of Cuban descent, tells us that El Pub’s recipe is the best he’s ever tasted – after his grandmother’s, of course. The outdoor tasting allows us to soak up the atmosphere of Little Havana.
Dining with Hemingway: Cuban sandwich, mojito, and rumba
The next stop on our food scene odyssey, Sala’o, serves the classic Cuban sandwich. It features ham, butter, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard between two slices of traditional bread. We also sip an emblematic mojito, which provides a refreshing contrast to the gourmet sandwich.
The establishment pays homage to its Cuban roots, in addition to making references to Ernest Hemingway, the famous author who lived in Havana for more than two decades. The moment is enhanced by the presence of a traditional orchestra that keeps us swaying between bites. In this way, the restaurant blends island flavors with a decidedly Cuban ambience, as well as a literary nod to The Old Man and the Sea.
What to eat in Little Havana? Churros!
Our culinary journey through Little Havana ends on a sweet note. First, we indulge in a classic Cuban pastry at Party Bakery, the pastelito de guayaba – a pastry filled with guava jam. Finally, we finish on a high note at Churromania, where the humble churro is elevated to an art form. According to the other participants, the churros were definitely one of the most awaited tastings on this food tour!
Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, they’re served hot and fluffy to perfection. They can be topped with anything you like – dulce de leche, chocolate, guava, cream cheese – although any topping would seem sacrilegious to our guide. Churros are usually eaten sugar-coated, with just a hint of cinnamon.
These places, like the ones before them, showcase the Cuban talent for creating delicious dishes from humble ingredients.
A bit of history between cigars and dominoes at these iconic Little Havana spots
The Little Havana food tour is interwoven with cultural and historical vignettes that offer deeper insights into the Cuban-American experience. At the Bay of Pigs monument, our guide recounts the 1961 attempt by Cuban exiles to infiltrate and overthrow the authoritarian regime, highlighting its significance to the local community.
There are also statues of roosters along the way (as well as live ones roaming famed Calle Ocho), as this is a sacred animal in Cuba. The walls of Little Havana feature many famous figures – from national hero José Marti to revolutionary Che Guevara and salsa queen Celia Cruz.
Then there’s the chance to buy the perfect souvenir or gift at Cuba Tobacco Cigar Co. The small factory offers a wide variety of assortments and single cigars of the highest quality, while you can watch a tocedor roll them with virtuosity.
Finally, we watch community members engage in the timeless game of dominoes at the charming Maximo Gomez Domino Park. Here, enthusiasts gather daily and have a great time simply enjoying each other’s company (and domino skills). It’s truly one of the highlights of this Little Havana food tour, and a great way to truly understand the Cuban culture of Miami.
How to book a Little Havana food tour in Miami
- Provider: Miami Culinary Tours
- Ticket price: $69 US / adult – $35 US / child
- Small groups of 14 people or fewer
- Vegetarian options are available on this food tour, but not it is not suitable for gluten-free or vegan diets as well as severe allergies or food restrictions
- Duration of 2.5 hours
- Total walking distance: Less than 1km
- Location: west of South Beach; best reached by taxi.