Block Party: Miami’s Little Haiti

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Like many things in Miami—and everywhere—the exact boundaries of Little Haiti are unclear. Whatever the borders are, the bedrock of Le Petit Haiti are the Haitian exiles who came to escape the dictatorial grip of the Duvalier regime and the socioeconomic struggles of the post-colonial island. Its main axis rests on Northwest 2nd Avenue and 54th Street, now identified as Downtown Little Haiti by the signs that have been put up. Vibrantly textured with a patois both linguistic and aesthetic, and thankfully without a bank headquarters or hi-rise condo in sight (for now), Little Haiti is a place of both old and new cultural heritages, and diverse institutions and shops that deserve un-spoiling visitation.

Little Haiti Cultural Complex

Standing at the intersection of NW 2nd Avenue and NW 59th Terrace, you’ll see the Caribbean Marketplace’s brilliant brightness and slatted, scaffolded structure, the same that defines the Port-au-Prince architectural style. Walk east on 59th Terrace and you’ll see that it’s part of the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, two large buildings divided by a courtyard that host Afro-Caribbean art exhibitions, concerts, and community activities. Every third Friday, they and the Rhythm Foundation host “Big Night in Little Haiti,” an immersive experience of diverse performance, Kreyól culinary vendors, and visual art.

212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137

Little Haiti Thrift Shop

Fresh styles not found at your standard thrift store are to be discovered at this retail gem. The Little Haiti Thrift Shop has a wide-ranging and affordable inventory of garments, objects, and works of art. Not only can you find designer-worthy nightlife attire and daytime threads—there are also truly out-there pieces that capture the island sensibility of loud yet laid-back fashion in all its colorful glory. Check it out if you’re into Haitian folk instruments and portraiture, silver faux fur coats, rainbows of wigs, and unpredictable consumer experiences.

5865 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137

 Churchill’s Pub

A historic punk dive bar that lays claim to having more live shows than any venue—open since 1979, outliving New York City’s CBGB—Churchill’s is the type of historical landmark that simply cannot be replicated. A hearty mix of bikers, rugby players, jazz flautists, and scuzzy noise freaks frequent this bar, besides all the other native and invasive species of barflies. For Churchill’s is a true display of the motley crews that enjoy drinking and/or music.

5501 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137

Chez Le Bebe

Even if not adventurous enough for the goat’s head stew, Chez Le Bebe has a menu of Haitian comfort food that comes out deliciously, in big portions, and at the right prices. Griot, fried pork, is a staple dish of the Little (and Big) Haiti culinary milieu, and the rice, beans, and plantains are requisites for first time tasters. Also, be sure to tread lightly and test the pikliz (spicy slaw) before piling it on—then do so if you’re down to hang like that.

114 NE 54th St, Miami, FL 33137

Libreri Mapou

While you’re visiting this bastion of Haitian community and culture, get learned on Haitian history, find books of verse by the country’s poets, and discover the unique cosmology of Haitian vodou. Besides books, Libreri Mapou also has a repository of international newspapers, movies, music, as well as sculpture, jewelry and refreshments.

5919 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137

 

Illustration by Jessica Olah for SIXTY Hotels

Rob Goyanes

Rob Goyanes

Rob Goyanes is a writer from Miami, Florida, now living in New York City. He has work forthcoming in the Paris Review Daily and Interview Mag.

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