Insider's GuideActress Ana Villafañe's Miami
The very first song Miami native Ana Villafañe sang in public, at a talent show at age nine, was Gloria Estefan's 1996 hit, "Reach," one of the official songs of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta that year. Little did she know how prescient that moment would be. In 2015, the singer and actress—whose family hails from Cuba and El Salvador—would catapult onto the public stage playing the pop icon herself in the Broadway musical On Your Feet! Nowadays you can find her on your TV screen on NBC's medical drama, New Amsterdam, as Dr. Valentina Castro. While her current residence is in a whole other zip and a whole other state, her home will always be South Florida. Here is her insider's guide to visit the city like a true local—croquetas, Cuban coffee and all.
Miami is a vibrant oasis rich in culture and home to such a wide variety of people. That kind of energy can’t be duplicated.
I love that Miami is constantly reinventing itself. I visit as often as possible when I need to reset or recharge, and it never ceases to amaze me how I can always discover something new while still feeling like I’m completely at home. It’s as though the city has grown up with me.
Growing up in Miami exposed me to every kind of person imaginable. Such a mix of different cultures, languages, socio-economic backgrounds, art, music, and flavors. My world view has never been and never will be one-dimensional. I’m incredibly grateful for that.
Miami is a judgement-free zone. Everybody’s welcome and, more often than not, it’s a giant party; however, if you’re not down with the Miami Heat, you should probably keep that to yourself.
Between you and me—get your ham croquetas from Islas Canarias.
Ana's Miami Guide
My youngest brother is vegan, which is how I first discovered this spot. The food is delicious and somehow feels like an indulgence. The vibe is chic but not pretentious.
Life hack: If you purchase certain yoga classes, you can gain access to the Hammam spa and amenities for the entire day. The Lido bar by the pool is, by far, the best place in the city to watch the sunset—while sipping frosé. If I ever “disappear” and no one can find me, I’m most likely at The Standard in Miami.
This bridge connects the mainland to Key Biscayne and it’s the only place I ever run. The views are spectacular, which is helpful because I actually hate running.
This is a hole-in-the-wall, hidden gem of a restaurant. Located in a strip mall in West Miami but designed to feel like a vintage diner in Cuba, it’s like stepping back in time. They have an extensive wine list and live music on Monday nights.
What people don’t know is that Emilio Estefan designed and installed the mosaics himself. Also, they serve bacon-wrapped sweet plantains and their menu includes a mojito with champagne in it. Enough said.
You can actually step inside this art installation, which feels like an igloo in the middle of the tropics and is located at Palm Court in the Miami Design District. I performed here with the Miami Symphony for Art Basel and it was surreal.
There are multiple locations, but if you want fresh coconut water, guava juice or my personal favorite—Mamey—look no further.
I’m lucky to still have my grandparents around. No Miami trip is complete without having Mimi make some Cuban coffee, which is typically paired with hours upon hours of gossip.
This is the theatre in Coral Gables where I made my professional stage debut in fourth grade. I remember my entire school came to watch the show on a field trip and I felt so cool. The smell of the lobby instantly takes me back to being that nine-year-old kid with a dream.