This winter, expect to hear a lot about Little Haiti.
That very unique arts district, known for its colorful murals, is now squarely on the Miami map, which is a good thing. Next door, the Design District has become off-the-charts upscale, adding a slew of luxury retail, plus a flashy new contemporary art museum. The days of the adjacent Biscayne Boulevard corridor as the next big thing? Far behind us—that miles-long strip has practically settled into old age, at this point. It was only logical that Little Haiti, close neighbor to all of the above, would become the area’s Next Big Thing.
Barely a couple of blocks from all of the above places, Little Haiti is a vast, somewhat nebulous section of Miami comprised of a handful of older neighborhoods, or at least pieces of them; over the years the area famously became the epicenter of Haitian culture in South Florida. The district, which finally received its official designation last year, has always had its lures. There is the ambitious Little Haiti Cultural Complex, with its colorful Caribbean Marketplace; there’s take-out from Wilkinson Sejour’s celebrated Chef Creole, where many a South Floridian had their first taste of Creole cooking. Oh, and don’t forget rock shows at the unapologetically divey Churchill’s Pub, a long-running live music venue.
In more recent times, signs have been pointing to the change that now appears to be here—little hangouts like Cafeina, Sweat Records’ terribly cool vegan coffee shop, for example. In 2013, a destination-worthy Argentinian spot, Fiorito, opened; to this day, the restaurant is one of the top spots in the city for a good bife de chorizo. There’s a popular yoga studio, just across from the soccer fields. Galleries seeking lower rents have been opting for the neighborhood for quite some time.
Suddenly, however, it’s as if all the stops have been pulled out—the number of new openings, or projects under construction, or ambitious planned projects that might not happen (this is Miami we’re talking about, let’s be honest), is, to say the least, impressive. Let’s run down just a couple of the highlights.
Right now, if you are heading into Little Haiti for a night out, the odds are good that you are headed for Sherwood’s Bistro. Opened over the summer and featuring a highly-Instagrammable, opulent-eclectic décor, the bar and patio scene here—not to mention the fun, pan-global menu—have become serious draws. The restaurant was opened by the team behind Morgans, another popular spot in (of course) Wynwood.
Announced a couple of years back but now finally taking shape, Panther Coffee—not only Miami’s top roaster, but one of the best in the country—is readying its 4,000 square-foot Little Haiti space for its opening; besides a café, there will be a market, a training lab, and a roastery. (While you wait, another new spot, Craft Food & Beer, is a smart little casual spot for all-day breakfast, lunch, smoothies and snacks.)
One of the neighborhood’s most ambitious developments in some time is also scheduled to make its debut this fall; The Citadel is a mixed-use reinvention of a mid-century Federal Reserve Bank building. Tagged as an “innovation hub,” a co-working space is already open, but most visitors will quickly come to know this as the location of Miami’s first major food hall—the first of a handful slated to open around town. More than twenty tenants will eventually make their home here, on the ground floor of the 60,000 square-foot complex. Expect a crowd.