So many of our Gurus recommended places they loved in Little Haiti that we decided to create a neighborhood guide. Located in an area formerly known as Lemon City, Little Haiti is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood that is home to the largest Haitian American community in the United States. It borders Buena Vista to the South and Little River and El Portal to the North, from 54th street to 79th street and from 95 to Biscayne Boulevard.
Over the last ten years gentrification dramatically changed this neighborhood. A combination of many factors: galleries and businesses escaping exorbitant rents in Wynwood, families looking for properties on higher ground to escape flooding and large developers buying in bulk blocks of land like Magic City on 62nd street. In this once quiet neighborhood, you can now find Michelin starred restaurants and art galleries coexisting with Botanica religious goods stores and popular Afro-Caribbean restaurants.
Our Guru Guide to Little Haiti
We recommend doing this tour on a Saturday when the Caribbean Marketplace or “Mache Ayisyen” takes place (260 NE 59th Terrace). Built by architect Charles Pawley, it is a replica of Port au Prince’s Iron Market, and you will find food, art and crafts for sale. Next door at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex (LHCC ) you can visit the exhibit Sacred Diagrams: Haitian Vodou Flags From The Gessen Collection. Exploring Haiti’s spiritual Vodou religion, these flags are made from burlap bags, fabric, beads and sequins creating intricate images used as ceremonial flags in the 1950s and 1960s.
Head next door to Libreri Mapou bookstore (5919 NE Second Ave.). Founded in 1986 by Jan Mapou, a Haitian playwright, this charming space is the neighborhood’s cultural hub where you will find literature in French, Creole and English. Cross the street to the Laundromat Art Space (185 NE 59th Street), an artist-run studio where you can explore eleven studios and a gallery. Cross 59th street to find one of Little Haiti’s most famous murals by Haitian artist Serge Toussaint welcoming you to the area. It features local members of the community like local dancer Ajhanou Uneek and Ray Bell who received a black belt in karate. Next-door the Villain Theater has weekly stand-up comedy and improv shows and is also well known for its workshops and classes. Keep walking south past hair salons, stores selling soccer shirts, handmade crafts, fruit vendors and botanica religious good stores where you can purchase incense, candles or medicinal herbs. Have a glass of wine at Fiorito (5555 NE 2nd Avenue) an Argentine bodega restaurant known for its steaks and great malbec selection. Continue one block and you will arrive at Sweat Records (5505 NE 2nd Avenue) where you can explore its amazing vinyl collection and ask its founder Lolo Reskin for recommendations of music acts across the city.
Head East two blocks on 55th Terrace and visit the Piero Atchugarry Gallery (5520 NE 4th Ave). Currently showcasing Artur Lescher’s Celestial Nouns’ sculptures and installations, this beautiful gallery always has interesting exhibitions. Across the street is the now famous Sullivan Street Bakery that is open to the public only on Saturday mornings. Order their Stirato, the roman pizza and purchase the Great Circle Guatemalan coffee to take home.
Go one block south to 54th street and head back west to NE 2nd Avenue. On your left is a strip mall where you will find the famous tiny restaurant Boia De (5205 NE 2nd Avenue). It was awarded a Michelin star and we believe its new restaurant next door, Walrus Rodeo (5143 NE 2nd Avenue), will be getting a Michelin star in June when they announce the new list. You need to book these restaurants a month in advance so see if there is room at the counter and then keep on walking west on 54th Street to Chef Creole Seasoned Restaurant (200 NW 54th Street). Chef Wilkinson Sejour runs this beloved Caribbean restaurant with a celebrity following that included the late Anthony Bourdain. Order their oxtail, the griot (fried pork) and the fried fish. For dessert, walk four blocks south to the Upper Buena Vista (184 NE 50th Terrace) open air mall and get a table under their gorgeous Banyan tree at El Turco. This Bib Gourmand Michelin restaurant is the perfect place to order flaky baklava or the kunefe, a sweet cheese pastry, with your Turkish coffee. Go take a walk and look at the charming stores that have clothing and home goods from Colombia, Ecuador and other Latin American countries.
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GuruTip: Do this tour on a Saturday when Sullivans Bakery is open and when the Caribbean Marketplace takes place.