As one of Miami’s most diverse neighborhoods, Little Havana is home to cuisines from all over the world. Chances are if you’re craving a specific flavor while roaming down Miami’s famed Calle Ocho, you’ll find it and someone with a great story in the kitchen making it. Little Havana has everything from high-end sushi to hole-in-the-wall Thai to authentic Mexican food and some of the best Cuban food in the city.
Here are three chefs in Little Havana that are shaping this beloved melting pot of a neighborhood:
Suzy Batlle from Azucar Ice Cream Company
No trip to Little Havana is complete without a visit to Azucar Ice Cream owned by Suzy Batlle — especially if you’re on Miami Culinary Tours’ Little Havana tour. Suzy wasn’t always an ice cream making machine, once upon a time she was a banker who fell victim to the economy crash in 2008. She was a single mom of two and armed with recipes and memories of her grandmother’s ice cream making days. Now her ice cream shop is one of the most popular spots in the area, boosting traditional flavors as well as those of Cuban heritage like the Cafe con Leche made with coffee and Oreos and Abuela Maria with cream cheese, guava, and Maria crackers.
Why we love her: Miami has always been proud of its Cuban heritage and with the help of Suzy Batlle the exotic flavors have been forever immortalized as a frozen treat that’s the perfect champion for a stroll down Little Havana’s Calle Ocho.
Chef Bas from Lung Yai Tapas
The name Veenuthtapon Trisransri may not sound familiar, but those who know Lung Yai Tapas in Little Havana are all too aware of who he is. Chef Bas, as he’s known by everyone, is the owner and chef at the tiny stand alone Thai restaurant. It’s a favorite for locals, tourists, and those in the hospitality scene who know what’s good when they taste it. With everything from well known pad Thai to coconut curries and more — Chef Bas has a line out the door before the restaurant opens each day.
Why we love him: Those who have made a visit to Lung Yai can attest that Chef Bas is Miami’s own “soup nazi” as there are several rules one must follow when dining in his restaurant. Your entire party must be present, you can only order once, don’t block the door, don’t try to order a pre-dinner beer while you wait, and definitely don’t ask for dessert (go visit Suzy at Azucar instead).
Michelle Bernstein of Cafe La Trova
Michelle Bernstein has been Miami’s sweetheart for over a decade with various restaurants like Michy’s, Sra Martinez, and Crumb on Parchment. While most of her restaurants have had their fame in Miami’s Design District, Chef Michy’s latest concept has found a home in Little Havana. Cafe La Trova offers live music, a blast from Cuba’s past with classic cantinero bartenders (and one of the country’s greatest running the programs — Julio Cabrera), and authentic Cuban food that some may dare say is better than abuela’s. In 2008, she brought home the coveted Best Chef in the South award from the James Beard Foundation and helped put Miami on the map.
Why we love her: Chef Michy is not only bringing Cuban comfort food into our hearts at her restaurant but every Saturday she’s also the host of SoFlo Taste, a local cooking show that shows viewers how to prepare three easy recipes each week — many times she will host a local purveyor as she uses their ingredients to give a little spotlight, because she loves to help Miami grow.
Article by Food Writer Amber Love