Annie Vazquez, the Fashion Poet, at Café Habana in New York City.
photo: Daniela Vesco/Vivala

“You’ve never lived anywhere, but Miami? Really?”

This bewildered reaction is what people tend to give me when I tell them I’m going to move to a new city for the first time in my life — and I'm an adult woman.

In retrospect, I guess it seems strange having never lived anywhere else. According to a recent poll, nearly half of all Americans relocate away from their childhood homes. 

Growing up in “Me-Am-E as us natives pronounce it, always seemed like the ideal city to spend my life.

Related From Vivala: This Food Fair Will Keep You on Your Toes

I mean with summer weather all year round, beaches at our finger tips, fun nightlife, a burgeoning art scene,and my friends and family all there, what wasn’t to love?

Well, that’s what I always thought until one very cold day last February during New York Fashion Week when I had decided to venture outside of Manhattan on my day off from covering the shows.That day I had layered myself with not one, but two coats and two pairs of tights with a simple tee and jeans. I abhorred the winter and while staying in bed nice and toasty in my hotel room sounded more appealing, I was curious to explore Williamsburg. I had read several articles for years about the area, and heard Miami artists talking about this up-and-coming “it” spot.

As I went up the steps from the L train platform the icy wind slapping my face, making me shiver. I stepped onto the famed Bedford Street and was in complete awe.

Related From Vivala: Model Natalie Suárez Is on the Loose in NYC 

The first frosty words I mumbled to myself were, “I can’t believe this place exists in New York. I could totally live here.”

It was everything I wanted: Quiet, quaint, and I could look up at the blue sky without towering buildings staring down at me. Yet, it had more. Here, locals trod in head-turning, picture-perfect street style. Dozens of hip restaurants and bars lined the streets, while hundreds of creatives co-existed, ready to inspire one another.

The best part of it all, was that it was just one subway stop away from the center of the fashion universe: Manhattan — a place, I had finally accepted I needed to be close to in order to really let my career blossom.

Since that trip, I’ve been coming back to Brooklyn for over a year, slowly developing a relationship with the borough and falling madly in love with her more each time. Sometimes I am here for a few days and other times for a couple of weeks.

I even met my Brooklyn boyfriend in Miami, ironically enough. He was visiting the weekend of my birthday and came to a party I had via a mutual friend.

It’s been a slow process. I’m not one to nose-dive into things, but I do think the universe heard me loud and clear that day about living here because everything keeps pointing me back to Brooklyn. Part of me is scared and part of me is equally ready for the adventure. All I know is by the end of this year, I’ll be here.

To satisfy my Cuban cravings from my home away from home, I’ve been doing quite a lot of research and exploring everything Cubano in NYC.

Here are some of my favorite Cuban digs so far: 

Mad for Maduros

In the Lower East Side, Cafecito creates maduros just like abuela’s. They are irresistible.

Guava Jelly Cupcakes

Us Cubans love our guava, and Brooklyn Cupcake serves up some of the freshest mini- and regular-size ones with guava jelly in East Williamsburg.

Cool Spot for a Café Con Leche

Café Habana in NoLita is always teeming with patrons, but it’s worth the wait for a caffeine fix.

A Romantic, Authentic Cuban Dinner

Feast your eyes on our homemade #ropavieja and follow your appetite to our dinner table tonight.

A photo posted by Victors Cafe (@victorscafenyc) on

Victor's Café is as authentic as it gets for Cuban eateries in Times Square. Opened in 1963, the family-run spot has everything from delicious Mojitos to live music, and a mouth-watering menu of all the best plates from Ropa Vieja to Arroz con Pollo.

Drinks and Dancing

In Williamsburg, Cubana Social makes delectable Mojitos, and on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8:00 p.m. has a live bands, playing Afro Latin jazz, salsa, and more. Every first Saturday of the month, slip into your dancing shoes for the venue's dance party.

Annie Vazquez is a Founding Creator and fashion blogger. When she's not writing for Vivala.com, you can find her at thefashionpoet.com.