Thursday, February 4, 2010

Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana

Most large cities have ethnic enclaves: Chinatown, Little Italy, Korea Town and so-forth.
Miami has "Little Havana". This neighborhood is centered around SW 8th Street ( Calle Ocho). It is the political and cultural center of the Cuban-American community.  Ground zero for the exile community is the Versailles Restaurant (pronounced Ber-Sigh-Es) on Calle Ocho!
Since 1971 this restaurant has been the gathering place for anti-Castro dissidents.
Restaurant is decorated with a variety of etched mirrors, and ornate faux chandeliers.  There are variety of dining rooms with a dessert bar, coffee bar, take-away cafe, and pastry shop. The  Versailles restaurant is large, and seems to maze into several buildings. I have always liked this haunt, because its the place were Cubans go, its  not a tourist trap, but rather good-old-fashioned Cuban cuisine. The menu is extensive, and price points are modest!
My buddy Jay got the "arroz amarillo con pollo. This dish was served with a heaping mound of yellow rice, filled with chicken, peas, hard boiled egg, and served with delicious plantains, and  tostado ( Cuban toasted bread).
No meal would not be complete with a "cafecito" and a "postre". Need I say more! The visit to the bake shop is worth the trip alone!
There is adequate off-street parking for Versailles. Located at 3555 SW 8th St, Miami 33315. Phone 305.444.0240 All major credit cards accepted. Often busy, but the wait is well worth the trip!
Clik here for Map

After leaving Versailles , we headed east on Calle Ocho and took in the sights. The irony of "Little Havana" is that it looks nothing like Havana, Cuba.
Old "Havana" has sections of old decaying buildings, but lacks the vibrant businesses of Little Havana. Havana Cuba was cleaner and there were no homeless people sleeping in the streets. Calle Ocho is littered with debris and the recession has taken its toll, with empty store fronts and dirty sidewalks.

Another place of interest in Little Havana is "Domino Park".
This city park comprises a few thousand feet along SW 8th Street (Calle Ocho), and features a pavilion were older Cuban men play, dominoes, chess and checkers. This city park is staffed with a Park Ranger due to that the old men would fight amongst themselves!
Members from the exile community spend endless hours playing various board games in this "plaza" city park. There are dozens of coffee shops and food stalls on Calle Ocho, its worth a visit if you are visiting south Florida. But remember, its not a replacement for La Habana!
Blogger/Innkeeper Gregorio enjoys Calle Ocho and plaza de la revolucion....

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