Cuban ventanitas from Havana to Miami

Ventanitas In Miami – And Their Cuban History! (2023)

Miami’s vibrant Cuban culture is defined by its music, food, and art. Still, perhaps nothing embodies this Latin cultural fusion quite like the ventanitas, or small window shops, found on street corners throughout the city.

I did not know that, and as I live in Miami at the moment, and have just noticed that just like in Havana, Cuba, there are the same kinds of tiny window shops scattered around!

These tiny storefronts serve everything from coffee and pastries to handmade cigars and newspapers and have become an essential part of the city’s bustling street life.

Yet, very few people know the history behind these iconic windows.

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What Is A Ventanita?

In this article, you will find out all about the origins of the ventanita, take a look at some of Miami’s top spots to grab a cafecito, and even travel to Havana to see how this tradition has spread beyond Miami’s borders.

During the 1960s, after the Cuban revolution, a Cuban businessman, Felipe Valls, arrived in Miami and opened a coffee stand that is now popularly known as the ‘ventanita’ or ‘little window’.

People nowadays come here to enjoy their cafecito, pastelito, or croqueta, and chat; charlar.

While ventanitas can be found all over Miami, not everyone knows what a Cuban ventanita actually is!

A Cuban ventanita is a small window-like storefront that sells coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and other small bites.

These small storefronts can be found on street corners all over the city of Miami and are a staple of the vibrant Cuban culture in the area.

I was surprised to see that in Miami, as when I lived in Havana ventanitas were everywhere, so I assumed it was a Cuban thing! Which, I have discovered, it actually really is.

Cuban Ventanitas!

A small ventanita in Cuba
A small ventanita in Cuba

The concept of the ventanita originated in Cuba and was brought to Miami by Cuban immigrants in the 1960s, and Felipe Valls has been credited with being the first Cuban to bring this concept to Miami.

In Miami, the ventanitas initially became a way for Cuban immigrants to share their culture and connect with others in their community, and you can read more about the ventanita history later in the article.

The restaurant Versailles that Felipe Valls opened is still considered to be one of the most famous Cuban restaurants in the world.

Over time, the ventanitas have become an essential part of Miami street life that the city is known for, and have even spread beyond Miami’s borders to other parts of the world!

Ventanitas are more than just small storefronts; they represent the cultural fusion of the Cuban community wanting to stay connected to their home country’s culture and the new world in Miami.

When you are visiting, whether you want to grab a quick cafecito on your way to work or enjoy a leisurely breakfast with friends, the ventanita has become an essential part of Miami’s vibrant street culture.

Check out 17 brilliant things to do solo in Miami here!

The Top 5 Ventanitas In Miami

Lots of small ventanitas in Little Havana Miami
Lots of small ventanitas in Little Havana Miami

When it comes to ventanitas in Miami today, there are many to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and atmosphere.

Here are the top five ventanitas in Miami that are a must-visit for anyone looking to experience authentic Cuban culture.

  1. Versailles Restaurant, the original ventanita in Miami! A classic, Versailles Restaurant has been serving up traditional Cuban food and cafecito since 1971. The ventanita at Versailles is always bustling with both locals and tourists, making it a great place to people-watch and soak in the atmosphere.
  2. La Carreta: With several locations throughout Miami, La Carreta is another classic spot for a cafecito and a pastelito. The ventanita at La Carreta is always busy, but the service is quick and friendly.
  3. Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop: This quaint little spot in Wynwood may not look like much, but Enriqueta’s is a hidden ventanita gem. The menu is small but delicious, and the atmosphere is cozy and welcoming.
  4. David’s Cafe Cafecito located in South Beach, is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The ventanita is always busy, but the staff is efficient and friendly, making it a great spot for a pick-me-up coffee before hitting the beach.
  5. El Exquisito Restaurant: El Exquisito is the place to go for authentic Cuban food and drinks. The ventanita at El Exquisito is always busy, but the food is worth the wait. Be sure to try their famous croquetas and empanadas.

These are just a few of the many ventanitas in Miami that are worth checking out.

Whether you’re a longtime resident or a first-time visitor, exploring the city’s vibrant street culture through its ventanitas is a must-do!

The History Of The Ventanita

Ventanitas has become an integral part of iconic Miami’s unique street culture over more than 60 years since the first Cuban immigrants arrived on the shores of Miami in the 60ies.

But where did the concept of the ventanita come from?

When Cubans began arriving in large numbers in the 1960s, they brought with them a strong coffee culture and a love of socializing and mingling in public spaces.

These small windows, often attached to Cuban cafeterias and restaurants, have been serving up café cubano, pastelitos, and other Cuban delicacies for over half a century.

The ventanita served as a natural extension of this culture, allowing people to grab a quick cafecito or snack and chat with friends and neighbors without interrupting their day too much.

Over time, the ventanita has become much more than just a functional window for serving food and drink.

It has evolved into a symbol of Miami’s unique cultural identity and a gathering place for locals and tourists alike.

Many ventanitas are decorated with colorful murals and feature live music and other events throughout the year, making them true community hubs.

As you explore Miami’s ventanitas, take a moment to appreciate where this now so integral addition to the Miami culture came from. And don’t forget to try some of the delicious food and drinks on offer!

What Can You Buy In A Ventanita? Let’s Take A Closer Look

As you approach a ventanita in Miami, you’ll be greeted with a menu of tantalizing options showcasing the best of Cuban cuisine.

From café con leche to pastelitos, croquetas to empanadas, there’s something to satisfy any craving.

These small windows pack a big punch when it comes to flavor and atmosphere and is a must-visit stop if you are looking to experience the vibrant culture of Miami’s Cuban community.

But the offerings at a ventanita go beyond just food and drink. You can also find a variety of goods for sale, including newspapers, lottery tickets, and even cigars.

This is a testament to the importance of ventanitas in the daily life of the Cuban community, serving not only as a source of sustenance but also as a hub for socializing and commerce.

As we explore the history of ventanitas in Miami, remember the many ways in which these small windows have had a significant impact on the lives of Cuban Americans.

And as we’ll see in the next section, this cultural phenomenon is not unique to Miami alone.

Ventanitas can also be found in Havana and other parts of Cuba, a testament to the lasting influence of this beloved tradition.

Ventanitas In Havana Cuba

A more "developed" ventanita in Cuba
A more developed ventanita in Cuba

Ventanitas in Havana also have a special place in the hearts of Cubans.

These small windows, which first appeared in the 19th century, are not just a place to grab a quick coffee or snack—they are a symbol of Cuban culture and community.

In Havana, ventanitas can be found on nearly every street or street corner, serving as a central gathering place for locals and tourists alike.

It’s not uncommon to see groups of friends chatting and laughing over cortaditos, or families enjoying pastelitos on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

But ventanitas in Havana also serve a more practical purpose, providing access to everyday goods like newspapers and lottery tickets.

And much like their counterparts in Miami, ventanitas in Havana are known for serving up some of the best cafecitos and sandwiches in town.

The enduring popularity of ventanitas in Havana is a testament to the deep cultural roots of this tradition.

From the bustling streets of Havana to the vibrant neighborhoods of Miami, these small windows have been important in the everyday lives of Cubans for generations.

As we wrap up our exploration of the history of ventanitas in Miami and Havana, it’s clear that these small windows have left an indelible mark on the communities they serve in both countries!

Wrap-Up The Story Of Ventanitas!

In conclusion, the ventanita is more than just a small window in Miami.

It’s a symbol of the Cuban culture and history cherished in Miami for decades, which the city is so well known for.

From grabbing a quick coffee to enjoying a tasty snack, these little windows offer a unique glimpse into a rich tradition.

Whether you’re a local or a tourist in Miami be sure to visit some of the top ventanitas and experience the essence of Cuban culture.

As the saying goes, “When in Miami, do as the Cubans do.” So, step up to the ventanita and savor a taste of Cuban heritage!

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