Hialeah is the punching bag of Miami. Here’s why that’s messed up.

Hialeah is a national treasure.Roberto Koltun

Hialeah gets a bad rap. Yes, it can be unrefined, overcrowded and hot as hell. Rush hour traffic there is bad enough to shatter the mind of even the most patient driver.

But Hialeah does have its charms, which the city reveals slowly and subtly, like a woman adjusting her faja after eating too many zingers at the Ale House. The truth is, if you look carefully you’ll find Hialeah is much more than just “agua, fango y factoría.”

Here are just a few of the wonderful things about Hialeah:

Leah Arts District

Art + fewer hipsters = a day in paradise.

Maybe it’s not as trendy or popular as its fancy cousin Wynwood, but we love it anyway. And listen, the Leah Arts District boasts 30 murals and counting. Last month, it served as base camp for 305 Day. The best part? There’s tons of parking and hardly any tourists, so you can explore at your leisure.

Leah Arts District, 1450 E. 11th Ave., Hialeah

1450 E 11 Avenue, Hialeah, FL 33010

The Hialeah Flanigan's

President and CEO James G. Flanigan II knows the Hialeah Flanigan’s is the best place to get lit.Chris Cutro from Miami Herald Archives

Tumbleweed onions and all night happy hour specials? Hell yes. Especially when there’s a game on? Plus, if you grew up in Hialeah you can always count on running into friends, enemies and former flames. Because if Hialeah is the Serengeti of South Florida, Flanigan’s is the main watering hole.

1550 W 84th St., Hialeah

1550 W 84th St, Hialeah

So many rinconcitos!

There’s practically one on every corner.

There’s El Rinconcito de Santa Barbara, which supposedly has the best mofongo in Miami. There’s also El Rinconcito Peruano and El Rinconcito Latino (not to be confused with El Rinconcito Super Latino III in Cutler Bay). This list goes on and on. Each rinconcito is a great dining alternative for nights when you don’t feel like hitting up Flanigan’s, the Ale House, or its stepsister, the Carolina Ale House.

El Palacio de Los Jugos

The magic of El Palacio de los Jugos lives in Hialeah.

Don’t start with the purist crap. We know this Palacios isn’t the original, but it’s just as good. It’s really hard to screw up un jugo de guarapo. 

1275 W 49th St., Hialeah

1275 W 49th St, Hialeah, FL 33012

You can find things really cheap

You want mosquito netting? You got mosquito netting. It probably costs 30 cents.Donna E. Natale Planas

Super cheap. So cheap there are places actually named Ñooo Que Barato. Don’t want to splurge on a Rolex but still want to stunt? Pick up an Ice King at Ñooo Que Barato. It’ll cost you under $10, and it works! Valsan is another favorite, so beloved its slogan is “Los que vienen no se van” (“those who come here never leave”). That’s because Valsan is the retail version of Dante’s Inferno; once you make it past the first gate, you risk getting lost down a windowless rabbit hole of incredible bargains and bizarre shopping finds.

1198 W 23rd St, Hialeah

1198 W 23rd St, Hialeah, FL 33010

Opa Locka Hialeah Flea Market

Roberto Koltun

If you didn’t find it at Valsan, you’ll probably find it here. You can browse produce, clothes, Brazilian fajas, unsolicited words of wisdom from every abuelita working a kiosk and possibly even a genie in a lamp. If Valsan is the retail version of Dante’s Inferno, the Opa Locka Hialeah Flea Market is the bargain hunter’s version of the Upside Down.

12705 NW 42nd Ave., Opa-locka

12705 NW 42nd Ave, Opa-locka

Parades - lots of parades

You don’t even need to bring your pots and pans to the Jose Marti parade – but you can.Patricia Laylle

Hialeah has the most spirited Miami Heat fans. As long as we win, you can count on an impromptu street parade along 49th Street. Anyone can join in — just bring your pots and pans and something to hit them with. Then there’s the Jose Marti Parade, the Three Kings Parade, etc. Casuelas are optional for those.

Become bilingual whether you want to or not

Even McDonald’s knows Spanish in Hialeah.Random Pixels

It’s an easy place to learn Spanish because literally everything is in Spanish. If you’re a total gringo, don’t worry — you’ll be greeting friends with “Que bola, acere” faster than you can say “Ñooo, que barato.”

La Fresa Francesa

Benoit Rablat and Sandy Sanchez run La Fresa Francesa in Hialeah.Linda Bladholm

You don’t have to drive down to Brickell or Miami Beach to have a romantic European dinner. Head to La Fresa Francesa Petit Café, and you’ll feel like you magically teleported to a tiny Parisian bistro where you can eat a guava crepe instead of a guava pastelito.

59 W 3rd St, Hialeah

59 W 3rd St, Hialeah

It's the safest place to be during a hurricane

Photo/Only In Hialeah

If you’re San Lazaro, that is.

Breadman Miami's croqueta cake

Emily Michot – emichot@miamiherald.com

Is it just an Instagram fad, or is the croqueta cake here to stay? All we know is it’s delicious.

5804 W 20th Ave, Hialeah

5804 W 20th Ave, Hialeah

Sarussi Subs

They’re baked in a pizza oven and better than Publix subs (*gasp*). Before you call blasphemy, try them yourself and tell me otherwise.

9836 SW 40th St, Miami

9836 SW 40th St, Miami

Cuban pizza at Polo Norte

No place in Miami does Cuban pizza like Polo Norte. Cuban pizza is a ton of dough heaped with a ton of cheese and tomato sauce. And of course, you’ve got to follow it with some ice cream. Prepare your digestive tract accordingly.

2050 W 56th St., Hialeah

2050 W 56th St., Hialeah, FL 33016

Hialeah Park

Fountains and flamingos – the majesty of Hialeah Park.

Because Hialeah has green spaces, too.

100 E 32nd St., Hialeah

100 E 32nd St., Hialeah, FL 33013

Hialeah is a great place to find a husband

Hialeah’s own Jon Secada has been married since 1997. In Hollywood years that two centuries.

Don’t waste your time trying to find love in a South Beach nightclub. If you’re looking for a man with a hint of Latin macho swag combined with a solid moral upbringing and strong familial values, head to the City of Progress and hit up The Bend or old reliable Flanigan’s. Everybody in Broward is doing it.