News and Insights

The Pulse of Miami – Calle Ocho

September 16, 2020

Southwest Eighth Street, or Calle Ocho, has a special place in the heart of anyone who has lived for a few years in the Greater Miami area. This neighborhood within “Little Havana” is home to many immigrants from Cuba and other Spanish speaking countries. As a result, your senses will be captivated with delicious food, Spanish language, music and Latino culture as you walk around the community.

Walking down the streets, you sense the vibrant pulse of the community as you smell Café Cubano emanating from the bodegas, enjoy “pan” coming just out of the bakery ovens, and smell the lush jasmine and bougainvillea swaying in the gentle winds. You’ll hear salsa softly playing in local restaurants like Versailles and smile at the local elders who are savoring a hand-rolled cigar. You’ll enjoy the laughter and joyful conversations as local residents debate politics, play dominos in the park or meet up on their porches to talk about life, family events and the latest happenings throughout Miami. 

Little Havana has been home to celebrities like Celia Cruz, Willy Chirin, and Gloria Estefan. Many who grew up in this area now serve the South Florida community as first responders, physicians, attorneys, politicians, artists, business owners and chefs.  For many new South Florida residents, living in Little Havana is their introduction to the United States and all the changes that go along with immigrating to this country. This cultural transition is made slightly easier by being surrounded by familiar language, food and customs they know and love.

Miami celebrates Latino culture with over one million visitors every Spring by hosting an all-day street festival along Calle Ocho. Popular international bands and music acts perform, talent and beauty pageants occur throughout the day, street vendors prepare yummy dishes from all over Latin America and the Caribbean, vendors sell handmade clothing and art, couples dance salsa and conga and everyone is simply enjoying the community and the fun.

COVID-19 may have cancelled the festivities in 2020, but I hope that my family and I will be able to attend in March 2021. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of dancing, laughing, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying my fill of medianoche sandwiches on Calle Ocho.

POSTED BY: Karen McDonald

Karen McDonald