This article is powered in partnership with The Miami Foundation for their 7th Annual State of Black Philanthropy — a virtual community convening to honor and uplift the rich legacy of Black generosity and leadership in Greater Miami. On February 23, 2022, pick up a special treat from one of these spots and tune in to learn from and celebrate community change-makers, artists, and organizations leading efforts for racial justice and making Miami a stronger, more equitable place. Learn more and RSVP at: miamifoundation.org/stateofblackphilanthropy
Miami-Dade has so much to offer any visitor or resident, but sometimes communities of color get overlooked when it comes to highlighting what’s great about our County. From Historic Overtown to the budding Black business district of Miami Gardens, to the culturally rich Liberty City; Miami-Dade’s Black communities have so much to share with the world.
Many of the gems of these Black neighborhoods may be hard to discover or they’re our best-kept secrets, but today I want to pull back the curtain to share with you some of the best places to visit and some of the best organizations serving the community in Black Miami-Dade County. This list just touches the surface of all the great places to visit, but it’s a great place to start for first-time visitors to these neighborhoods.
What we now know as Liberty City, began when Black residents moved from Overtown into Liberty Square housing projects in the 1930s. A neighborhood that began as a response to deteriorating housing conditions in Overtown, has grown to be a culturally rich community filled with budding Black-owned businesses, homeowners, and historic high schools that have birthed some of our best and brightest in academics and sports.
Roots Black Marketplace: The Roots Black Marketplace was created in 2015 for Black and Brown businesses by a group of friends who go by the moniker, Roots Collective. Their mission is to shift the paradigm of economics in the community and help to provide a space for local Black businesses to thrive. The marketplace takes place every other Sunday on a lot gifted to the organization located at Northwest 54th Street and Sixth place.
iKrave: If you’re looking for authentic soul food then you should visit iKrave in the heart of Liberty City. The restaurant was established in 2018, as the passion project of husband and wife, Eric and Sheena Vandyke. The couple, who are Liberty City natives, elevated Sheena’s family’s soulful recipes and her father’s three decades of culinary experience, to bring to life one of the most authentic and vibrant southern food restaurants in the South Florida area.
African Heritage Cultural Arts Center: The center of the art world in Liberty City lives at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center. They pride themselves in being the nucleus of arts learning, training, and access for Miami-Dade County’s African-American community. Founded more than 45 years ago, the center houses an art museum, a black box theater, a music building with a concert hall, piano lab, a dance studio, classes for the youth of the community, and so much more.
When you want the best of Haitian culture in Miami, you have to head to Little Haiti for a one-of-a-kind experience. With Victorian architecture found in parts of the Caribbean adoring the main throughways in the neighborhood, Little Haiti is the life source of Miami’s Haitian community. According to the Greater Miami Conventions and Visitors’ Bureau, Little Haiti is located about five miles north of Downtown Miami and the main attractions are centered around the Northeast 2nd Avenue corridor.
Little Haiti Cultural Complex: The main cultural hub in the Little Haiti neighborhood is the Little Haiti Cultural Complex. The location broke ground in 2006, as a result of a long-awaited vision of the late City of Miami Commissioner Arthur E. Teele, Jr. LHCC offers a unique opportunity for residents and visitors to gain exposure to Afro-Caribbean culture, expand their knowledge of the arts, and develop new talents.
Chef Creole: This restaurant is where you want to go to get an authentic taste of Haitian cuisine. Nestled in the heart of Little Haiti, this place is where you should go to get your first taste of griot or stewed conch. This location, which is one of five, is one of the iconic staples of the Little Haiti community.
Miami Urban Contemporary Experience (MUCE) Campus: Uniquely dope art experiences are what MUCE is known to bring South Florida art lovers. The MUCE campus is an industrial complex transformed for funky cultural creatives. Located next to the world-famous Chef Creole, MUCE Campus serves as the perfect productive and creative space for your next event with a backdrop of amazing Black art.
The city of Miami Gardens is located in the North-Central region of Miami-Dade County and is one of the largest Black cities in the US. Housed within is 20 square miles are famed Dolphin Stadium and Calder race rack, but the residents and local businesses are the heartbeat of the city. Incorporated in 2003, Miami Gardens is the result of residents who truly care to improve their community for generations to come.
Ice Cream Heaven: When you want a sweet cold treat that tastes like it’s been blessed by the gods, head to Ice Cream Heaven for some of the best ice cream in the county. The ice cream shop, which was recently taken over by new owner Shannon Thomas, aims to be the number one sweets shop in the area.
Lorna’s Caribbean & American Grille: This restaurant is decked out with modern decor and swanky vibes, with the Caribbean and American cuisine that many in the area have loved for decades. You can come for brunch, dinner, or one of their many events that includes a popular live R&B music night.
The COOL Clothing Boutique: When you need dope threads before you head out to one of the many locations we’ve featured, you should stop by The COOL boutique to get you right. Founded by Eric Wooden, the store’s moniker, Champions Of Our Livelihood, is a motto to live by and aspire to. The COOL’s mission is to empower the youth and provide creative expression through fashion. Their Miami Gardens location is one of three locations Wooden owns.
North Miami has a large Haitian community and has a population that is more than 50% Black. With many POC residents calling it home, the area is a cultural force in Miami Dade, being home to the MOCA, national parks, and top universities, the city is filled with things to do.
NoMi Bar & Grille: This lounge and restaurant adds soul and class to North Miami’s nightlife and culinary scene and it is located within walking distance from the MOCA North Miami. NoMi Bar & Grill boasts that it is a decadent fusion of a Restaurant, Lounge, and Bar. Their menu selection, atmosphere, ambiance, and service create a relaxing yet grown and sexy vibe for all to enjoy.
Da Cave: Da Cave is a growing hot spot with many flocking to their Wednesday night event that features a live band. Whether you are looking to have a power lunch, a post-work wind-down, or a wild night, Da Cave is a passageway to refuge or release where you can get away. The 6,000 sq. ft. lounge, bar, and grill is located centrally and where people can hear the best of Miami’s music scene including Hip-Hop, Reggae, R&B, Top 40, Caribbean, and more.
The city of Opa-locka is nearly 100 years old and holds the distinction of having the largest collection of Moorish Revival architecture in the Western Hemisphere, including a City Hall complete with minarets and elaborately painted domes. Once known for the popular event, The Arabian Night parade and festival; the city would draw in thousands of visitors for their staple event. The city has a large Black population that calls it home and new Black-Owned businesses are coming in to help revitalize the historic city.
Juice Defined: Juice Defined is a full-service juice bar located in Downtown Opa-locka. Owner Fathiyyah Doster began juicing for herself and realized that this gem had to be shared with her community. In a past article I wrote for my news blog, Hy-Lo News at Juice Defined, their mission is to create access to healthier options by providing a community-based, holistic approach to wellness.
La’Love Fashion Boutique: Ladies! Go get fly and chic with the latest fashions from La’Love. Located in downtown Opa-locka, the swanky beautifully designed boutique has what you need for any night on the town in Miami.
Crabman 305: This longtime favorite in the community of Opa-locka is one of the top places to go in North Dade for delicious seafood. Crabman 305 uses the freshest locally bought seafood, and his famous sauce is a delicious blend of butter, garlic, parsley, and secret seasonings. Founded out of their garage by two cousins, Darren Whitaker and Johnny Fanin, Crabman 305 has grown to gain national recognition with top celebrities and music artists loving their food and constantly coming back for more.
Once known as the Harlem of the South and Little Broadways for hosting iconic acts like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday; the Historic neighborhood of Overtown has re-established itself as the budding entertainment district for Black Miami-Dade and beyond. With new national chains, the World Class Lyric Theater, and world-class events like Soul Basel, Overtown has something for everyone looking to enjoy themselves and take in the cool culture.
Lil Greenhouse Grille: From humble beginnings as a local food truck, providing meals at a great price is the life’s work of Lil Greenhouse Grille co-founders, Nicole Gates and Karim Bryant. At Lil Greenhouse Grill, you are not just a customer but part of their community and family. Dine in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and get a taste of some of the best in soulful Cuisine.
The Urban: The hottest new outdoor venue in Miami is in the heart of Overtown at The Urban. Spearheaded by Urban Philanthropies, The Urban has many events and their signature weekly Friday night party powered by Social X’Change. The Urban is a chic cool venue Infused with art, music, and culture. Anchored by a popular food truck, Granny B’s, and a centralized bar, The Urban is the new destination for food enthusiasts looking for a truly local, food market experience.
Ward Rooming House: This venue, which is a part of the National Register of Historic Places, is a popular Art Gallery and unique venue space. The host of many events featuring premiere Black Artists from across the world, Ward Room House is an art oasis. Built in 1925, it was originally a rooming house for Black and Native Americans. Now under the direction of the Hampton Art Lovers, the Ward Rooming House is a staple in Miami’s Black Art scene
Many people don’t know, but should know, the rich and inspiring history of Richmond Heights. According to the Richmond Heights Community Development Corporation, the original Richmond Heights development was created at the end of World War II by Capt. Frank C. Martin, a white Pan American pilot. Housing for black people was substandard and unaffordable during this time because of racial segregation and after leaving the service, Martin formed Richmond Development, consulting with a local advisory committee of black leaders to build the first private development in Miami-Dade County established exclusively for African-American World War II veterans. It is among the first planned Black communities in the nation and today, the community is still a thriving bastion for Black excellence and unity that aims to increase economic equity for its Black residents.
Mr. Jacks Soul on the Go: This is a family-owned takeout restaurant experience that caters to Southern Cuisine. In addition to honoring their family patriarch, Clarence “Mr. Jack” Malone; the owners wanted to provide South Dade residents with top-notch soul food so they didn’t have to travel north to enjoy it. The kitchen at Mr. Jack’s is called the Family Food Factory because it is where the Southern Cuisine is created by members of Mr. Jack’s Family.
Londonade: Founded by a 9-year-old entrepreneur, London Josara started her Lemonade company with big dreams to raise awareness of kids experiencing homelessness and to be an inspiration to help other kids that have ADHD. London gourmet seasonal lemonades that include flavors Blue Gansta and Boo Berry Lemonade.
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