For an immersion into Miami’s Black history, culture, and community, I encourage visitors to spend some time away from the neon lights of the Art Deco District and beaches (don’t worry, they’ll still be there!), and explore neighborhoods likes of Little Haiti and Historic Overtown.
These hubs are rich in culture, provide valuable insight into Miami’s Black history, and every bit as remarkable as the popular tourist spot in the city.
I’ve highlighted some of Miami’s Black-owned businesses and institutions that add to South Florida’s flavor. So, here are some of my must-visit destinations, restaurants, hangouts, and entertainment in Miami’s Black-owned scene.
Please keep in mind these details are subject to change. Due to COVID-19, social distancing and face coverings may be required. Be sure to check local health officials’ safety regulations and each establishment’s website for updated information before making final plans.
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Black Historical Landmarks in Miami
Historic Virginia Key Beach Park
More than a popular local hangout, this lively beach park is of historical significance in Miami. In 1945, civil rights activists protested the Jim Crow era laws that denied Black people the right to enjoy Miami’s beaches.
Following the protests, where Black leaders defiantly entered “white only” Haulover Beach, the local government responded by designating Virginia Key Beach as the first “colored-only” beach. It quickly became a popular destination.
After closing down in the 1980s, the beach was restored and reopened in 2008. It has since been maintained and remains a beloved tribute to the segregation era’s struggles and the Black community’s perseverance.
It’s now where many local families, often enjoy “beach days” and one of the unique ways to experience Miami outdoors. Many come here for leisure bike rides, go for a jog, or attend one of the many park’s yearly events or festivals. I also happen to think it’s a beautiful alternative to the crowded South Beaches’.
Address: 4020 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida, 33149
Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater
Historic Overtown’s glamorous past life lives on through the Lyric Theater. A fixture of the neighborhood since 1913, the theater has seen performances from countless icons of Black history and the history of music as a whole – Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Sammy Davis Jr., to name a few.
It was so reputable that the Miami Metropolis dubbed it “the most beautiful and costly playhouse owned by colored people in all the Southland.”
The Lyric Theater closed for some time in the 1960s when construction of the I-95 interchange tore right through Overtown, displacing tens of thousands in the bustling neighborhood, effectively dimming the entertainment district.
Through the Black Archives History & Research Foundation’s efforts, the theater was restored and reopened in 2000. Fully revamped, it now holds a host of performances, from jazz concerts to comedy shows and art and history exhibits.
The Lyric speaks to not only the Black community’s talent and artistry but also its unwavering nature in the face of cultural erasure. It is among my bucket list of things to do in Miami, and well worth it to catch a show if you can.
Address: 819 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33136
Black Police Precinct and Courthouse Museum
Before Miami’s integration, Overtown’s first Black police officers had this building as their precinct station, which also served as a courtroom and jail for Black people. While the precinct closed in 1963, there is no better place to learn about Miami’s historic Black police department with a guided tour of the museum.
The guides are passionate and entertaining, displays are provoking, informative with documented stories and memorabilia from the era. You’re guaranteed to leave having learned so much more than expected.
If interested in learning about Black people’s plight in Miami, take an hour to visit the museum, you won’t regret it. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm; and admission is $10 per person.
Address: 480 NW 11th St, Miami, FL 33136
For more on Miami’s Black history: I highly recommend the documentary program The Black Miami. Watch it here with a 30-day Prime Video free trial.
Black-Owned Performing Arts and Cultural Spaces in Miami
Smoke Signal Studio
Established by accomplished Caribbean-American poet Aja Monet and Dream Defenders co-founder Phillip Agnew, Smoke Signal is a launching pad for Miami’s undiscovered talent.
What separates this studio from the countless others in Miami is Monet and Agnew’s emphasis on inclusiveness. Events held by Smoke Signal Studio are unforgettable and attract people from all backgrounds. When headed to Miami, keep an eye on their social media for what’s coming next.
Libreri Mapou Bookstore
Top of my list for Little Haiti attractions? Libreri Mapou Bookstore, founded in 1990 by Haitian playwright, poet, and activist Jan Mapou, this community staple has managed to preserve Haitian culture for decades.
Mr. Mapou’s inventory started with his own collection and now incorporates all kinds of books, including history, folklore, politics, and vibrantly-illustrated children’s books by Haitian authors.
Besides being an absolute treasure trove of literature (you can find works in French and English), and one of the best free things to do in Miami, Libreri Mapou is a mini cultural center in itself.
When you step into his shop, you never know who you may run into. You will find artists and writers mingling with neighborhood families and sharing tales with tourists.
Live cultural performances, author readings, and gatherings discussing current events are a common occurrence. For an enriching experience, try to catch a poetry reading or dance workshop if you can.
Address: 5919 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137
Black-Owned Galleries and Museums in Miami
N’Namdi Contemporary Miami
Art buffs and collectors will enjoy the caliber of fine contemporary art this gallery has to offer. As a second-generation art dealer, Jumaane N’Namdi has a sharp eye for great design, evident in N’Namdi Contemporary’s diverse roster of well-established talent, often showcasing emerging artists. Miami is fortunate enough to have a branch of this highly respected gallery in our very own Little Haiti.
Address: 6505 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33138
Haitian Heritage Museum
Located in Miami’s trendy Design District, this museum celebrates the art, culture and heritage of Haiti.
Linking Haitians together and providing insight into the achievements of Haitian people and the culture, this facility is a mainstay of the community offering exhibits, programs, and events that are relevant to everyone, no matter what their ancestry.
If you’re interested in learning more about Haitian-American culture and the Haitian Diaspora specifically, the Haitian Heritage Museum is a wonderful place to immerse yourself. Haitian art, artifacts, music, films, and literature can all be found here.
Address: 4141 NE 2nd Ave #105C, Miami, FL 33137
Black-Owned Restaurants in Miami
Bon Gout BBQ
Their Instagram bio reads, “Best BBQ in Little Haiti baby,” and it’s very easy to agree. Bon Gout BBQ does both traditional and fusion dishes well and at a great price.
The menu is a mix of soul food, traditional Haitian food, and Haitian fusion food. Their ribs are fall-off-the-bone soft, the griot is expertly made, and the zakos are indeed something to write home about.
Address: 99 NW 54th St, Miami, FL 33127
World Famous House of Mac
Though owner Chef Derrick Turton is a graduate of a culinary arts program with some experience in the industry, it was his time managing Pitbull (yes, that Pitbull) that pushed him to create the World Famous House of Mac.
Turton’s talent for culinary fusion was evident even to his famous clientele, and he eventually created the House of Mac’s rich menu of fusion soul food and Caribbean food.
You can find practically any mac and cheese variation here – vegan, jerk chicken, surf and turf, you name it. It’s a staple blocks from Wynwood, so check it out if you’re in the area – or even if you aren’t.
Address: 2055 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127
Naomi’s Garden Restaurant & Lounge
A real triumph of Caribbean cuisine, Naomi’s Garden Restaurant creates food that crosses cultural borders. The portions are significant, the food is well-seasoned and reasonably priced.
Naomi’s has some great vegan options, and anything you order here will likely turn out amazing, but among their excellent fare, the jerk chicken is a real winner!
The ambiance is laid in a casual back-patio setting. Come here during weekend evenings to take in live performances while you dine.
Address: 650 NW 71st St, Miami, FL 33150
Jackson Soul Food
You’ll find one of Overtown’s best soul food just two blocks away from the Lyric Theater. Jackson Soul Food, a no-frills restaurant serving up classics such as fried catfish, grits, and even smothered liver and onions.
Service comes with a smile, warm and welcoming atmosphere with generous portions. Their extensive breakfast menu is served all day, too, and is worth checking out.
Address: 950 NW 3rd Ave, Miami, FL 33136
Pack Supermarket and Cafeteria
This unassuming cafeteria in Little Haiti is home to what might be the best-fried chicken in South Florida. What used to be a well-kept secret among Miami locals has now rightfully claimed a spot as one of Little Haiti’s must-visit restaurants after being here for decades.
But what’s special about Pack Supermarket is how it’s become a beloved community hangout for locals. You come for the affordable Haitian fried chicken (and sides) and stay for the friends you make in line.
Address: 8235 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33138
Red Rooster Overtown
Red Rooster’s Overtown branch has been one of the most highly-anticipated restaurant openings in Miami this year. Owned by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, the bistro serves a creative and innovative mix of fusion cuisine featuring soul food classics merged with Caribbean flavors and techniques.
Though the pandemic somewhat delayed its grand opening, Red Rooster’s The Creamery was at one point open, selling unique, can’t-miss ice cream flavors like Marcus’ Cornbread (sweet corn ice cream with cornbread and brown butter crumble). Keep an eye out for future announcements!
Address: 920 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33136
Black Cultural Events in Miami
Jazz in the Gardens
Every year, Miami Gardens holds this celebration of jazz, soul, and classic R&B. Jazz in the Gardens, a weekend festival filled with diversity, culture, art, and musical excellence, particularly of the Black community.
Though the 2020 Jazz in the Gardens event was canceled due to the pandemic, you should keep an eye out for next year’s updates as tickets go fast.
American Black Film Festival
The ultimate celebration of black artistry in film, the American Black Film Festival, focuses on content created by people of African descent and primarily features themes related to the Black experience.
This year, the 5-day event was held virtually due to the pandemic. But as always, there were film screenings, discussion panels, masterclasses, live entertainment, virtual expos, and even virtual parties. You can always expect a wholly enriching and educational experience centered on the Black community and its contributions to Miami and beyond.
Ways to Support Black-Owned Businesses – South Florida and Beyond
- Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust – Black Pages Miami
- Miami-Dade County Black Affairs Advisory Board – Black World Guide
- Minority-Owned Businesses in Miami – MinorityBiz
- Official Black Wall Street
- Black Wallet
- Support Black-Owned
- Black-Owned Book Stores across the US
Miami has a vibrant multicultural atmosphere definitely worth immersing in.
Spend some time away from the rooftop bars and shopping districts to explore the culturally and historically rich establishments in Little Haiti, Overtown, and beyond. These neighborhoods are home to many Black-owned businesses in Miami, that play an integral role in making Miami what it is today.