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Another much talked-about development in Little Havana is the Thursday night party known as Fuacata at Hoy Como Ayer, a small Southwest Eighth Street club where the Canadian D.J. Andrew Yeomanson mixes Afro-Cuban rhythms with hip-hop, reggae and other sounds accompanied by an improvising trio of saxophone, trombone and timbales and packs the house with a young crowd of Miamians. Calle Ocho is known for Cuban home-cooking restaurants like Versailles and La Carreta. But there is now an inventive culinary addition called Tet´, a bright and cozy restaurant at 1444 Southwest Eighth Street that is beautifully decorated with paintings and ceramic pieces by local artists. On a recent visit, the menu was decidedly non-Cuban I ate squid stuffed with crab Louis with a side of black ink linguini while a two-man band played mellow Latin standards on keyboard and sax. Art, by Cubans and other Latin Americans, is plentiful at both museums and private galleries. The city of Coral Gables, adjacent to Little Havana, is known for its concentration of galleries along Ponce de Leon Boulevard with vast collections of work from Latin American masters and new artists. Some of the best-known galleries include Elite Fine Art and Cernuda Arte. The area fills up with browsers on the first Friday of every month from 7 to 10 o'clock for a gallery night. Little Havana has Cultural Fridays on the last Friday of the month along Calle Ocho between Southwest 14th and 17th Avenues. For about three hours starting at 6 p.m., businesses remain open for art exhibitions, antiques sales and cigar making while local folkloric groups play from a portable stage. Participants include the Latin American Art Museum, which exhibits emerging artists and houses several independent galleries selling work for $50 to $160,000. Despite its name and emphasis on art from Latin America, the museum welcomes artists from all over the world. Much of the charm of Little Havana, however, is found in such institutions as the many tabacaleras, or cigar factories, where old Cuban experts hand-roll tobacco grown with Cuban seed in places like Central America and the Dominican Republic. At one, Tabacalera Las Villas, at 1528 Southwest Eighth Street, the tables where the cigars are made were empty on an early Saturday afternoon the rollers are old and only work in the mornings, the owner, Pedro Bello, 73, explained. But other tables displayed Mr. Bello's two brands in open boxes: Havana Sunrise ($6 to $8 each) and Pedro Bello ($12 to $15 each.) The Cubans are not the only ones to have transplanted a bit of their country in Miami soil. The voodoo spirits and bright colors of Haiti are in evidence at Jakmel Art Gallery and Cultural Center at 2301 Biscayne Boulevard, between Little Haiti and downtown Miami, not far from the American Airlines Arena. The gallery is in a two-story house adorned with a mural of the ocean framed by verdant mountains. It is owned by Jude Papaloko, 37, a painter, sculptor and mixed-media artist who opens his exhibitions with both a party and a voodoo ceremony in the gallery's backyard. In a recent show, "Behind the Mask," his steel sculptures and acrylics on canvas mostly depicted voodoo gods and goddesses represented in forms the artist said came to him in dreams. (The pieces sell from $500 to $55,000.) Mr. Papaloko offered to drive with me about 30 blocks north to Botanica Halouba at Northeast 54th Street and First Avenue, a large store in Little Haiti where shoppers can buy clothes, candles and voodoo books and dolls to the beat of drumming background music. There, visitors can find beautifully beaded Haitian voodoo flags for $150 to $160 and have a consultation or card reading with Papa Paul, a voodoo priest who has turned the back of his store into a temple. But Miami is about its beaches more than anything else, and a perfect end to my short visit awaited just minutes away back in Miami Beach. At the south end of Ocean Drive, a public beach club, Nikki Beach, has a European atmosphere, with 12 bars, a restaurant, dance floors, a mostly French service staff and access to the public beach. From my vantage point at an outdoor table under a white canopy hanging from palm trees, I could see sun-bathers lying in a large circle of chairs or by tepee huts, often with a drink in hand. Off in a corner, a massage therapist was working the back of a well-muscled man. On weekends, the club is open from 11 a.m. to 5 a.m., and the clientele is half local and half tourists, from New Yorkers to Saudi Arabians, according to the owner, Jack Penrod. By late afternoon on Sundays, the attire evolves from swimsuits to cool casual wear for a weekly party that draws up to 6,000 revelers. The place has so much Riviera flavor, in fact, that Mr. Penrod is planning to open a branch in St.-Tropez. Visitor Information Music and Art P.S. 742, a performance space at 1165 Southwest Sixth Street, presents dance, music, theater and performance art on most Fridays and Saturdays. Information: (305) 324-0585. 6G Art Space, 533 Southwest 12th Avenue (entrance on Sixth Street), (786) 543-6222, has Friday night rumba. Doors open 9:30; $5 cover. Gallery night opens more than a dozen Coral Gable galleries on Ponce de Leon Boulevard and nearby from 7 to 10 p.m. on the first Friday of the month. Information: (305) 444-4493. Cultural Fridays in Little Havana are the last Friday of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. on Southwest Eighth Street (Calle Ocho) between Southwest 14th and Southwest 17th Avenues. Information: (305) 644-9555. Latin American Art Museum, 2206 Southwest Eighth Street, (305) 644-1127, http://www.latinartmuseum.org/, is closed Sunday and Monday. Free. Jakmel Art Gallery and Cultural Center, 2301 Biscayne Boulevard, (305) 573-1631, is open daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Music and poetry readings start at 8 Saturday nights, $5. Where to Shop Tabacalera Las Villas, 1528 Southwest Eighth Street, (866) 858-2822, is open daily. Little Havana to Go, 1442 Southwest Eighth Street, (305) 857-9720, is closed Sunday. Botanica Halouba, Northeast 54th Street and First Avenue, (305) 751-7485, is open daily. Elite Fine Art, 3140 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, Coral Gables; (305) 448-3800 is open Monday to Friday. Cernuda Arte, 3155 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, Coral Gables; (305) 461-1050 is open Tuesday to Saturday. Night Life Tet´, 1444 Southwest Eighth Street, (305) 858-8801, serves a fusion of Italian and Caribbean cuisines. Dinner Wednesday through Saturday; lunch Monday through Friday. Dinner for two with wine, about $80. Hoy Como Ayer, 2212 Southwest Eighth Street, (305) 541-2631, holds its Fuacata party on Thursday. Doors open at 9 p.m., music starts at 10:30. Cover, $5. Nikki Beach, 1 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; (305) 538-1231; http://www.nikkibeach.com/, is open 11 A.M. to 5 A.M., except Tuesday through Thursday, when it closes at 5 p.m. The restaurant features a raw bar, sushi and entrees like satay chicken and baked snapper on a bed of shaved fennel and wakame. Dinner for two with wine, about $150. Massages cost $40 a half-hour, $75 an hour.
MIREYA NAVARRO reports on Latin culture for The