OUR SLICE OF SW 8th IN LITTLE HAVANA
Historic Calle Ocho Miami (also known as Southwest 8th street) is the address in Little Havana that Ball & Chain has called home since 1935. Today it is a bustling thoroughfare with some of the best Cuban restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Miami – with Ball & Chain firmly atop that list.
Originally known simply as The Trail, Calle Ocho has its roots as the dusty southernmost terminus of a great national road, Highway 41, which served as a trade corridor for goods bound for shipment from Miami’s port. As Miami boomed in the early 20th Century as a major tourist destination, Art Deco and Moderne buildings began to line the street, including the still extant Tower Theater and the building for Ball & Chain. Restaurants in Calle Ocho Miami gained a reputation as centers for music – as well as for other, shadier things – and Ball & Chain was at the forefront for both.
Principally a Jewish neighborhood during this time and through the immediate post-War era, 8th Street began its transformation into Calle Ocho with the arrival of Cuban refugees during the early years of the Fidel Castro regime. By the 1970s the neighborhood was over 85% Cuban and the district had become known as Little Havana. An eclectic mix of cultural centers, small businesses and restaurants on Calle Ocho led to the neighborhood being declared “A National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2017.
The street and its surrounding blocks are always lively but never less so than during the Calle Ocho Festival, an annual one-day fiesta that has featured the world’s longest conga line; the world’s biggest piñata (10,000 lbs!); and the world’s longest cigar. First staged in 1976 as a way to promote Cuban culture to Greater Miami, the festival now has spread to include all of Latin America and is the largest Pan-American street festival in the world. Celebrated every March, the Calle Ocho Festival draws more than a million visitors to experience 30 stages worth of live music, performers, dancing and food and drink – the best of which is naturally on offer at Ball & Chain.
Come and see! Visit dozens of landmarks, stroll the Walk of Fame (dedicated to Latin performers), take in a show at the beautifully restored Tower Theater or the Miami Hispanic Ballet in the equally historic Warner Mansion and finish with dinner and drinks at the best Cuban restaurant Calle Ocho Miami has to offer: Ball & Chain, a Little Havana institution.