THE BLOG
09/12/2012 06:54 pm ET | Updated Nov 12, 2012

Cafecito, Cigars, Telenovelas... A Taste of the Latino Life in South Florida (VIDEO)


The Cuban Cafecito: Florida's Little Jolt of Inspiration

Miami looks and sounds like the United Nations. We hail from Cuba, Haiti, Latin America -- and plenty of U.S. cities, too.

At Calle Ocho in Little Havana, expect no Gucci shops or blonde models. This is where we keep the real Miami, the cigar-rolling, coffee-drinking, domino-playing variety. If you address someone in English and they answer you with a puzzled look and a Spanish response, don't take it personally. It's a Miami thing. Just dive in.

Lunch at La Carreta, 3632 SW 8th St., where you can have a Cuban sandwich or pulled pork. Stop at Versailles Restaurant, 3555 SW 8th St., the unofficial Cuban exile headquarters, for café con leche. But do it our way: on your feet at the outdoor window, where you can get the pulse of the neighborhood.

Watch cigars being made at Credito Cigar Factory, 1105 SW 8th St., then stroll past Maximo Gomez Park, 801 SW 15th Ave., where the old-timers play their favorite game: dominoes.

If you've worked up a thirst and are truly brave, drive to Palacio de los Jugos (Juice Palace), 5721 W Flagler St., where you can find fresh tropical juice smoothies and a freshly roasted pig in a chaotic outdoor setting. Don't worry, they're not screaming at you.

Here are a few more video stories to consider and then experience for yourself:

Nuevo Latino Cuisine
Some of South Florida's premier chefs are taking traditional Latin food to a new level by combining old customs with new ingredients. Chef Douglas Rodriguez is redefining Cuban cuisine while Chef Juan Chipoco features a new take on the traditional Ceviche.

Flamenco Passion and Tapas
On Espanola Way in South Beach, soulful dancers exercise a freedom of expression that originated with the Gypsies in Andalucia, Spain.

Novelawood, the Hollywood of the Americas
Miami, home to some of Latin America's biggest stars, has become the center of the Spanish television world and the telenovela rules the air.