|Giant roosters welcome you to Little Havana.|
The best time to visit Little Havana is on Fridays during the Viernes Culturales festival when the streets are full of music and dancing, and local historian Dr. Paul George leads walking tours of its history, architecture and interesting places. (If you can't make it out on Friday, Dr. George also leads Little Havana walking tours through HistoryMiami and Miami Culinary Tours will take you to the best places to eat.)
|A view of Los Pinarenos Fruteria from Calle 8 (8th Street).|
We perched up on the Coca-Cola stools and I asked Pete to make me his favorite juice - a "super juice," it turns out, of celery, ginger, beet and carrot, which was delicious and sweeter than I expected. Later I learned it's because the Hernandez family uses pure, raw sugar cane in their recipes. I watched as Guillermina passed stalk after stalk through the presser, four to five times per stalk to get every last drop of natural sweetener.
Playfully hinting to Pete that my mom was slightly pickier, I scanned the menu for flavors I thought she might like - watermelon, mango, grapefruit - and moments later she was happily sipping another one of Pete's concoctions, a green juice made from celery, parsley, pineapple and ginger. We sat there for a while chatting with Pete and Guillermina as people came and went - ordering fresh-pressed juice or Cuban tamales, and always staying to socialize. (Oh, our grand total for the two drinks was $8.)
|Sunflowers in the market at Los Pinarenos Fruteria.|
|Some more goods in the market at Los Pinarenos Fruteria.|
|Left to right: Invisible North Pole fish for sale at Los Pinarenos and my Cortadito from El Cristo.|
|El Cubano and Pan con Lechon sandwiches from El Cristo.|
|Clockwise from top: Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, street art and flags in Little Havana.|
|Calle 8 and Domino Park.|
After five days spent in swanky South Beach and cruising the Florida coastline (more on that later), Little Havana was a refreshing, warm, and welcome respite. The next time I'm in Miami, I'll go back for more fresh-pressed juice and will make sure it's on a Friday night!