A considered afternoon is an occasional series that brings you an afternoon adventure somewhere close to home. Spend some time this week checking out things to do in Little Haiti.
There are pockets of escape throughout Miami that you can step into for a few hours and feel as if you have been transported into another country, surrounded by unique traditions from the food you eat to the art that you see. Little Haiti, also known as Lemon City, between the Northeast 50s and 70s blocks, west of Biscayne Avenue, is one of these places. It’s an historical neighborhood, a community in transition, and one that is full of people who support their heritage, embrace their culture, and who enjoy a unique Miami experience. Here’s how to get a little piece of that experience for yourself — some things to see, do, eat and drink – when you have a couple of hours to get away.
Authentic, inexpensive eateries highlighting Haitian cuisine are sprinkled throughout these blocks. Pop into The New Florida Bakery Creole and Pastries for a sweet treat and drink. Per our new friend Claude’s recommendation, we tried out the Potato Cake and Corn Milk (also known as AK100), and it was a smash. The Corn milk tastes like a mix of egg nog and a Haitian version of a horchata with a sweet, thick creaminess mixed with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. The Potato Cake is dense, and as Claude mentioned, you can eat it over the course of days. (We shared ours.) It’s an in-and-out kind of place, so bring cash and take your treats to go.
Take your tasty to-go treats over to the Little Haiti Community Garden, nestled on the corner of 58th and NE 2nd Street, to soak in some serenity. The garden is open from 10am-3pm daily and is a beautiful pocket of unkempt perfection. Pathways blending in with edible vegetation lead the way to a couple of picnic tables to relax in tropical peace and quiet. The garden is a sweet escape from the bustle of the business of life just on the other side of the walls of fruit trees and collards. Or share your potato cake and some friendly conversation with the master Gardner Prevner Julien.
After we polished off a portion of our potato cake, we walked the garden with Julien. Although he didn’t speak much English, and we didn’t speak much Creole, we were able to connect through our excitement for produce. He lead us through the garden pointing out fruits and veggies like kale, tomatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, banana, and passion fruit and had us sample some of the bounty. Having worked this garden for the past 4 years, he knows the ins and outs of this space, and it’s delicious to taste the fruits of his labor. If you want to eat local, Little Haiti Garden participates in the Upper East Side Farmer’s Market every Saturday.
Venture on to The Little Haiti Cultural Center. We viewed the “I Am A Man, Images of Protest” exhibition on display in honor of Black History Month. Walking through, we were able to view photographs throughout time representing various historical moments of protest and empowering quotes from respected cultural leaders in Miami and beyond. This exhibition is live through March 20th, but they continually strive to support not only arts, but music and community. Every 3rd Friday is Big Night in Little Haiti, a party with live music, art, dancing and more held in the plaza at the Cultural Center to honor diversity, community and culture. The center also hosts classes in visual and performing arts, language, literature and more.
As the afternoon comes to an end, wrap your day by popping into the well-known watering hole Churchill’s. This low-key pub, famous for its influence on Miami’s music scene, opens early afternoon and welcomes in locals and regulars. Take the bartender’s pick from their eclectic beer selections with a chilled mug. We sipped our beer and enjoyed classics from the jukebox picked by a couple of regulars. Saying a toast and singing along to sweet tunes from the record-player era was a fitting end to a mid-week escape into Little Haiti.
Eunique Deeann is a Miami-based blogger and photographer who covers travel, adventure, arts and culture. Follow her on her Tumblr, Stranded on Land.