Before chef Michelle Bernstein and bartender Julio Cabrera came together to open Café La Trova, a spot with top-notch Cuban music, cocktails and food was just a thing we wished existed. Sure, plenty of places had one or two of those, but the pairing of Bernstein and Cabrera is nothing short of magic manifested in mouthwatering paella croquetas, the Instagrammable Chancleta cocktail and so much more, all contained in a beautifully evocative space.
Take an out-of-towner to Little Havana and they’ll likely be nonplussed, expecting some kind of Disney version of Cuba, a recreation of the Malecón with beat-up old Chevys parked everywhere. Instead, the authentic character of Little Havana hangs in the smoky clouds wafting from cigar shops. It vibrates in the music of jazz quartets playing beside tiny two-top tables.
You’ll find it as you browse rows of mamey at Los Piñarenos and, most certainly, in whoever’s manning the plancha, pressing some of Miami’s best Cuban sandwiches at the dozens of spots along Calle Ocho. Below, we’ve rounded up the very best restaurants in Little Havana, where each bite imparts a bit of the historic neighborhood’s magic.