Latinx cultural points of interest in the United States
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Over 61 million strong, the wildly diverse U.S. Latinx/Hispanic population continues to grow and flourish. And Latinidad culture can be observed and experienced all around the United States.
Through food, art, music, clothing, dance, books, shops and the neighborhoods our diasporas have created, we have found a way to celebrate our culture outside of the homes our parents and elders came from. And while you may have enjoyed tacos or a Cuba libre while dining out, there really is so much more to learn about and enjoy when it comes to Latinidad.
Expand your horizons and dive deep into the cultura of Latin American countries by visiting some of the places in these Latin-centric cities around the U.S.
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Boasting a 69% Hispanic population, arriving in Miami is as close to being in Latin America as you can get without leaving the U.S. In fact, you’ll even find that knowing Spanish is often a necessity to get around.
This strong cultural influence is most apparent when you go out to eat; you can nosh on Argentinian empanadas and alfajores at Patagonia Nauhen, dig into some Colombian-style hot dogs and arepas at Los Perros, try Peruvian ceviche at Pisco y Nazca or indulge in Latin-inspired sweets at Azucar.
The Cuban and Nicaraguan diasporas have their own dedicated neighborhoods in the 305. For the former, visit Little Havana where you can find places of interest like the infamous Calle Ocho (home to one of the largest Latin American street festivals in the world—slated to make a return in 2022). You can also spend time learning about the history and art of the nation at the CubaOcho Museum and Performing Arts Center, or drop by for a night of delightful debauchery at Cuban bar and lounge Ball and Chain.
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Then there’s Little Managua in Sweetwater, a place to experience Nicaraguan culture by way of eating gallo pinto and carne asada (like at Fritanga Monimbo) or shaved ice desserts at Raspado’s Loly. You can also drop by the neighborhood in early December to experience the annual La Gritería / La Purisima (a holiday festival that brings Nica culture to the streets).
Don’t leave the city without exploring the exhibitions at the Perez Art Museum (dedicated to Latin American art), enjoying a performance by the Miami Hispanic Ballet or the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, or watching a Spanish-language film at the long-standing Tower Theater.
New York City
Latinidad is everywhere in Nueva York, from upper Manhattan’s beloved El Museo del Barrio (a museum wholly devoted to Latin American culture past and present) to Bushwick’s Mil Mundos Books and Cafe (where English and Spanish books can be found side by side along with workshops and literary events). It’s also home to the Loisaida Center, a community space that’s still running strong since its inception in the 70s, home to Latinx art, performances, cooking classes and more.
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But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If music is what moves you, check out Casa Latina Music Shop, run by Vicente and Christina Barreiro for nearly 40 years. It’s the place to discover new and old Latin music, collectibles and more. Or if you’d rather do some dancing, you can try a salsa or bachata class at one of the Nieves Dance Studio locations.
If shopping is more your thing, a visit to La Sirenita can yield some superb Mexican handicrafts. Or try any number of Latinx-owned botanicas in any of the five boroughs, like Lola’s Botanica or Botanica Macarena, to find spiritual gifts.
Of course, there’s also plenty of food to be had: from the Venezuelan arepas at Patacon Pisao to Uruguayan chivito (including vegetarian versions) at Tabaré to basically everything at Ñaño Ecuadorian Kitchen. And of course, you can stop in at long-standing staples like Casa Adela for some legit Nuyorican cuisine — which is just a hop, skip and jump away from the infamous Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
And speaking of a fun night out, definitely try Toñita’s — NYC’s longest-running Caribbean social club, for dancing, drinking and generally getting down with your favorite people.
LA County is home to nearly five million Hispanics and counting, so you know you’re going to find plenty of Latinx culture in every corner. This is especially true in neighborhoods like Boyle Heights, home to colorful murals, street vendors peddling delicious churros and tacos and Mariachi Plaza (where mariachis come from all over to get hired for special events).
Then there’s Plácita Olvera (otherwise known as Olvera Street), first opened in 1930, is a brick-paved outdoor market where one can find Latinx goods and eats. It’s also the place to be for some of the biggest Latinx and Chicanx events of the year, from Día de los Muertos to Cinco de Mayo to Las Posadas in December. Olvera is part of the greater El Pueblo area, the birthplace of Los Angeles, and a great spot for a tour.
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Looking to explore more Latinx art while in town? Drop by a Latinx-owned gallery like the Cactus Gallery, La Galería Rebelde or Bermudez Projects to encounter the works of new-to-you artists. Or visit a museum or cultural arts center like LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural and Bookstore up north in Sylmar and the ever-impressive Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) just south of LA in Long Beach.
As for Latin food, you know it’s everywhere here. Try Conchita’s Restaurant for Salvadoran cuisine, Doña Bibi’s for Honduran staples, and El Guelaguetza or a thousand other spots for Mexican dishes. Your choices might as well be endless (and the majority are oh, so good).
You’ll find Latinx and Chicanx culture abound in the Windy City, but this is especially true in areas such as Pilsen, Little Village (La Villita) and Humboldt Park. Each neighborhood boasts an array of delectable Latin cuisine, vibrant Latin-centric street art as well as museums and cultural centers for the community.
In Pilsen, you’ll find the National Museum of Mexican Art, an always-free destination that houses tens of thousands of works by some of the biggest names in Mexican and Chicanx art such as Diego Rivera, Ester Hernández, Carlos Cortéz, and of course, Frida Kahlo. Afterward, grab a bite at Cantón Regio or a drink at La Vaca Margarita Bar.
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Nearby Humboldt Park is home to the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, where you can check out impressive exhibitions of Puerto Rican art, take part in art workshops and sit in on cultural lectures. As a before or after treat, make sure to order a jibarito (multi layers of meat and cheese between friend plantains) at Borinquen Lounge, where the Puerto Rican sandwich was first introduced.
There’s more, of course. Make sure to check out what’s going on with the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance while you’re in town to catch a live production. And finally, mark your calendar as the Chicago Latino Film Festival takes place in the Spring— an excellent place to take in Latin culture on-screen and in the community.
Houston’s Latinx population is heavily composed of Mexicans and Tejanos (or Mexican Texans), but they aren’t the only ones in town. Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Honduran and Colombian immigrants and their diaspora also make up much of the area’s Hispanic community, and you’ll notice it once in town. Pupuas, for example, abound at eateries like Mama Rosa’s and Montecristo Pupuseria y Taqueria. There’s also arepas (Colombian and Venezuela style) at the local Tasty Arepa food truck. For dessert, there’s the Guatemalan-owned El Quetzal, as well as the Peruvian-owned Sweets By Belen. And we haven’t even talked about all the incredible Mexican cuisine (trust us, there’s plenty to be found all over the city)!
It’s not all food, though. Houston is home to an impressive number of museums, galleries, and cultural centers, many of which focus on Latinx art. There’s Casa Ramirez Folkart Gallery which serves as both gallery and shop as well as event space. Meanwhile, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston has a dedicated space for Latin American art, with more than 550 works in their core collection alone.
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Then there’s the Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts (or MECA), a non-profit which provides arts education, support services, and multicultural artistic performances and events to underserved, underrepresented communities. Just this past year they’ve hosted a number of Latinx events, including a Hispanic Heritage exhibit by Puerto Rican artist Blue One Thirty, a Day of the Dead group show and a Guadalupana group show about the Virgen de Guadalupe.
Maybe you’re just looking to snag some fun Latinx souvenirs on your trip, though. In that case, check out the East End Farmer’s Market for tons of Latin-centric treats from tasty Mexican-owned Rasa Libre coffee, to gorgeous handmade bags and hats, plus occasional live entertainment from local mariachis.
Featured photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images.
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