More to Miami
Updated: Dec 18, 2022
For years I only saw Miami as a destination hot spot to visit with my girls during memorial day weekend. I only knew Collins Ave. and the Clevelander, South beach, and the Candy Factory. There was that famous rap lyric ''Live on Sunday, King of Diamond Mondays'', and to most people that for them, Is Miami.
But when it comes to Black Excellence, history, and entrepreneurship, there's culture and opportunity bursting at the scenes. We're talking historically Black beaches and neighborhoods, Haitians, Bahamians, and movements that changed the nation. There is much more to Miami than the average traveler can see, and this is how to spend your time in Black-owned Miami.
I was lucky enough to enjoy two tours while in Miami. I had the pleasure of seeing Miami with my Miami bestie Keymia of Key2Mia tours!
Professional and knowledgeable these tours were outstanding and covered so much Miami history I didn't know. With multiple tour options, I took the ''Beyond the Beach'' and ''Melanin Miami'' tours. I stayed in Historic Overtown and I was overwhelmed by the amount of history I had at my doorstep and all around me. From the Lyric theatre to the precinct, the ward roaming house, and Purvis Young's artistic vision I was in awe of the history that lives on those blocks. I learned about Arthur McDuffie's impact and when I saw his name go across FTX Arena I realized the impact that community still has on Greater Miami today.
The Second tour I took was called Tap Tap Tours and explored little Haiti! Jean Cidleca is the fantastic Haitian guide who taught me all about Zoe's life and its impact on Miami. Known to some as Lemon City, Little Haiti is the cultural hub for Haitians. There you can find the Little Haiti cultural complex and explore Haitian artists like Frantz Charlemagne. I loved seeing all the cultural references throughout the neighborhood from the statues to the convenience store. And the murals, there are so many murals, and they all celebrate and tell different Haitian stories. One of the stops is to get some Haitian candy and their infamous Akasan drink! A vanilla corn beverage that had me in a chokehold! We visited the Toussaint Louverture sculpture and while there I could hear families speaking creole in the background. It's so important to preserve our cultures and Jean is doing a fantastic job.
There are so many Black-owned restaurants in Miami! From Jamaican to soul food, Italian infusion, and more, you will not leave any of these restaurants disappointed.
Red Rooster- Historic Overtown
If you want to know where everyone is, Red Rooster is your answer! Located in Historic Overtown this restaurant is ALWAYS PACKED. If you're familiar with Red Rooster Harlem by Chef Marcus Samuelsson, this is the same restaurant but with Miami flare! Overtown is the ''Harlem of the South'' so it's fitting that the restaurant is strategically placed there. From the moment you walk in Black excellence is displayed as they pay homage to the ''Negro Motorists Greenbook. Overtown locations were prominent in the publication and the building used to be an old pool hall run by Mr. CLyde Killens. I LOVE that they paid homage to him and designed upstairs to celebrate his vision. I'm not going to give it totally away, but you definitely need to visit for yourself to see! With programming nightly, this restaurant/ lounge is the place to be!
If you want to visit for just drinks PLEASE go see Gorilla Kie! Their amazing Bar tender who turns happy hour into a full experience. She made a ''Martinique'' for me and it was AMAZING! Now please pace yourself with Red Rooster because you will end up there nightly if you're not careful. The menu and the vibes are seriously that good!
Lil' Greenhouse Grill
Right down the street is the oh-so-good ''Lil Greenhouse Grill'' an edgy neo-soul restaurant that Gayle and Oprah approved! From the moment I walked in, I knew it was going to be good! The owner Ms.Nicole Gates came to greet me and told me she was happy I was ''experiencing the soul of Miami''. With a savory menu, I tried hard not to order everything. Shrimp and grits are always my go-to, but that mac and cheese is what had me hooked! I also got to try a Miami Flop for the first time. A sweet tea, and lemonade mix, but with an extra ingredient that I'll leave for you to experience.
Dunkanoo Jamaican Kitchen
Not too far from Overtown in the Wynwood district sits vibrant Dunkanoo Jamaican Kitchen. From the moment you hit that door, it's straight Vibes. As an honorary island girl, I was right in my element. The DJ had soca and bashment playing and I could hardly sit still! I sat at the bar, but there's both indoor and outdoor seating available. With a wide array of drinks and food options, I went straight for the rum punch, salt fish fritters, rice and peas, and goat! I was literally liking my bowl lol. Fantastic flavor and staff, I highly recommend,
Before the pandemic, there was a fantastic BNB called the Copper Door in historic Overtown run by chef Akino West and his amazing wife Jamila. Having to pivot during this time they created Rosie's MIA which is one of the best food experiences you'll ever have. I remember being obsessed with these two from 2019 because I was so impressed with the concept they created and how they changed the hospitality industry for millennials. Anything they do, I'll gladly support and so being able to support them at their new restaurant was a must.
Akino doesn't play when it comes to the menu options and there's something for everyone! Jamila being her sweet self brought me practically everything on the menu and it was ALL GOOD. Mouth-watering combinations that you wouldn't typically put together, this location IS A MUST.
Miami has four Black-owned accommodations. The Gabriel, The Hilton Cabana, Aloft Miami Dadeland and the Dunns Josephine. With so many options I wanted the one in the historic Overtown and had the pleasure of staying at the Dunns Josephine.
Owned and operated by my shero Ms.Kristin Kitchen the Dunns Josephine is a space where you feel welcomed as soon as you hit the door. It felt like I was walking into my mommy's house with chic details and Black art throughout. With the motto ''When we thrive, our community thrives'' the women who run this establishment are committed to their community. When speaking to Ms.Kristin I was amazed at what she'd been able to accomplish during the pandemic and how the Dunns Josephine showed up the people who call historic Overtown home.
While there I stayed in the Marcus Garvey room. I was comfortable and their beds make you never want to get out of them. Every room has a story and I enjoyed learning about some of the names I wasn't familiar with. I spent a lot of time in the outdoor spaces as they were perfect for journaling and getting some sun and daily I enjoyed walking the neighborhood and learning more about the Black history that surrounded me. The Red Rooster is just down the street so even after a fantastic night I could walk right on home.
My favorite part about my stay besides talking to Ms.Kristin for hours about the Black travel movement was when they welcomed local artists for ''Make Music Miami''. A day created to celebrate music throughout the different neighborhoods of Miami.
There were multiple musicians that came through, but I was completely blown away by a musician named ''Lady of Harp''. She played so beautifully and to see a Black woman with that instrument is game-changing as it's not a normal sight.
Ms.Kristin owns multiple accommodations throughout America and she is exactly who I want to see when I walk into an establishment. I felt at home at the Dunns Josephine, and I appreciate everything they continue to do for the historic Overtown community.
Most people have no idea that Miami has a historically Black beach named
''Historic Virginia Key Beach''. I too was blown away by this as Black beaches were the ultimate vacation spot for Black families during times of segregation. This is where Black people could come and enjoy freely and see some of the most iconic Black people during those times.
Arriving at the beach for me was the equivalent of arriving at Disney land for a child. I've covered so many Black-owned beaches and I had never heard of this one. My guide Keymia was so knowledgeable about this space and helped paint the picture of what it was like to be here during the times of its existence.
I imagined Muhammed Ali's beach parties and all the sophisticated fashion worn by women who came through. It's spaces like this I love to share because without this narrative our history dies. The team does a great job preserving the grounds that stretch over 50 acres of land and you can learn so much more once there. Originally opened in the 1940's , the location was revived in 2008. There's a historic carousel that you can still ride, and the Beach front rentals are my absolute favorite! They reminded me of the gingerbread homes in Oak Bluffs and I actually wondered if there was any correlation. This location lured thousands to this tropical getaway and it's my prayer, that we revive it fully to be able to be the highly sought out vacation destination it once was.
This trip to Miami was different, and even though I didn't include all that I experienced, it has compelled me to go back and learn more. Black-owned Miami has a story worth telling, and I hope everyone gets the chance to indulge in it.
Watch my Black-owned Miami restaurants reel here