48 Hours: ‘City of Progress’ Hialeah offers old school cuisine, fresh activities

Posted October 19, 2017


Incorporated in 1925 and known to many as “The City of Progress,” Hialeah is a dynamic and vibrant community with a wide range of cultural activities that appeal to the predominantly Hispanic backgrounds of its residents. Rarely explored by visitors and even local residents, Hialeah doesn’t usually come up as one of the popular cities to visit in South Florida. “I’ve been here [University of Miami] for four years and I’ve never been to Hialeah. You always hear about places to go to in Brickell and South Beach, but never there. People usually tell me to avoid that area because driving through there is horrible,” Kyle Sylvester, a senior, said of the northwest Miami-Dade city. However, if given the chance, “The City of Progress” could open your eyes to a whole new world that offers a rich amount of culture, arts and entertainment for family members of all ages.


10 a.m. – Cuban Coffee 101 at Chico’s

 Get a taste of the different kinds of Cuban coffee Hialeah has to offer at Chico’s café and their coffee counter. This café has been running in Hialeah for more than 30 years. Learn and taste the difference between the different types of Cuban coffees, such as: cafecito/café cubano, colada, café con leche and cortadito. Chico’s is also open 24 hours a day where visitors and locals alike have access to Cuban comfort food around the clock.

11:30 a.m., – Have lunch at Stephen’s Restaurant and New York Style Deli

 A Jewish deli in Hialeah? Opening in 1954 when Hialeah was a garment district, many New Yorkers resided in the area, resulting in Stephen’s Restaurant and New York Style Deli. Even though the demographics have changed, menu staples such as the hand-carved pastrami and corned beef on rye bread have not. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to dine in a 63-year-old deli. The deli is only open on the weekdays, so it is important to schedule your visit appropriately.

1 p.m. – Explore the murals of The Leah Arts District

The Wynwood Walls probably come to mind when you think of an emerging arts district, with Hialeah being one of the last places to find art. However, two years ago, one councilman (Paul Hernandez), one public relations guru (Jenny-Lee Molina) and thousands of passionate locals were ready to make Hialeah a supportive environment for the talented local artists. The Leah Arts District was founded in an effort to revitalize the commercial neighborhood and provide comfortable living for the creative during the housing boom. Some 25 murals have been painted by some of the city’s local artists while others continue to add to the walls.

6 p.m. – Test your luck at the Hialeah Park Racing & Casino

 The Hialeah Park Racetrack was one of the most iconic parts of Hialeah when it first opened in the 1920s. Famous jockeys in the United States and famous faces, including Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby made appearances there. Thanks to a restoration project in 2013, it is reopened and holds horse racing events and the casino with live music events.



10 a.m. – Have breakfast at El Palacio de los Jugos

Guanabana juice at Palacio de los Jugo in Hialeah (Photo by Rizelle Zabate).

The Palace of the Juices is pretty much a produce plaza with stations for hot Cuban food (seafood, grilled meats, stews and soups and sandwiches). At Palacio, you sit elbow-to-elbow with strangers who don’t care how hot the day is, or how many bad calories they’re ingesting. Feeding the soul definitely outweighs the possible health risks. Stalks of sugar cane line the juice bar and are crushed into guarapo (sugar cane juice) in addition to the other various juice flavors such as mamey and guanabana. A staple when visiting is to pick up any of the ripe fruit juices and a paper bag of an order of chicharron (fried pork).


12 p.m. – Peruse the Opa Locka Hialeah Flea Market

 One of the largest open-air markets in the city is the Opa-Locka Hialeah Flea Market. Open every day of the week, the market has more than 800 vendors, multiple food options and the sunny outdoor vibe while you are treasure-hunting.

5 p.m. – Admire The Garden of the Arts 

Garden of the Arts is one of the newest parks in Hialeah, but is gaining a following for being one of the most beautiful open spaces in the city. Murals, sculptures and art installations fill the park, which looks like a cross between an art gallery and a museum. Concerts and other live events take place in the amphitheater depending on the time of your visit.

Toston burger at Pincho Factory in Hialeah (Photo by Rizelle Zabate)

7 p.m. – Try a Toston Burger at Pincho Factory

Feeling hungry after treasure-hunting and strolling through the park? Then visit the Pincho Factory, a local restaurant chain, for some delicious burgers and bowls. Specializing in burgers, what better way to embrace the Cuban culture than with a Toston Burger? A toston is a flattened plantain fried twice and salted. At the Pincho Factory, they make a delicious Toston Burger, which includes: Two fried plantains as the “buns,” then topped with jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and homemade cilantro sauce.



9 a.m. – Enjoy more cafecito at Molina’s Ranch Restaurant

Wake up early for breakfast at Molina’s Ranch Restaurant! Founded in 1982, Molina’s Ranch Restaurant specializes in Cuban Food with a wide selection of plates to enjoy. From popular dishes such as “moros y cristianos, chicharrones and yucca con mojo”, Molina’s also has more sophisticated plates, wines, drinks and desserts. Locals also flock to this restaurant for their coffee counter window where you can also get one of the best Cuban coffee in town.

11 a.m. – Bike, Run or Roam Amelia Earhart Park

 On your last day in Hialeah, burn off some of the calories consumed at Amelia Earhart Park with some outdoor activities. The Bill Graham Farm Village takes visitors back in time to old Florida farming days. There is a petting zoo and an area called the Demonstration Shed, where you can learn to milk a cow, shear a sheep, or shoe a horse. If you brought your furry friend along, visit the five-acre Bark Park with space for both large and small dogs, washing and grooming areas, doggy swimming pools and obstacle courses. The park also offers bike trails, soccer fields, sailing lessons and picnic areas.


If You Go

  • Chico’s Restaurant – 4070 W 12th Ave., Hialeah, Fla., 33012; Hours: open 24 hours; 305-556-8907; http://places.singleplatform.com
  • Stephen’s Restaurant and New York Style Deli – 1000 E. 16th St., Hialeah, Fla., 33010; Hours: Open Weekdays ONLY from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.; 305-887-8863.
  • The Leah Arts District – 1450 E 11 Ave., Hialeah, Fla., 33010.
  • Hialeah Park Racing & Casino – 2200 E 4th Ave., Hialeah, Fla., 33013; Hours: Friday & Saturday open 24 hours/Sunday-Wednesday 9 a.m.- 3 a.m./ Thursday 9 a.m. – 12 a.m.; 305-885-8000.
  • El Palacio de los Jugos – 1275 W 49th St., Hialeah, Fla., 33012; Hours: Everyday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.; 305-825-7858; elpalaciodelosjugos.com/en/Hialeah
  • Opa Locka Hialeah Flea Market – 12691 NW 42 Ave., Opa-Locka, Fla., 33054; Hours: Everyday 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.; 305-688-0500.
  • Garden of The Arts – 1700-1798 W 76th St., Hialeah, Fla., 33014
  • Pincho Factory – 4950 W 12th Ave., Hialeah, Fla., 33012; Hours: 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.; 786-409-2818.
  • Molina’s Ranch Restaurant – 4090 E 8th, Hialeah, Fla., 33013; Hours: Everyday 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.; 305-693-4440; molinasranchrestaurant.com
  • Amelia Earhart Park – M-F, Free Admission, $5 per vehicle on weekends; 401 E 65th St., Hialeah, Fla., 33013; Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.; 305-685-8389; gov/parks/Amelia-earhart.asp