Amara Omeokwe

The Little Habana restaurant is a standout on its street in downtown Juárez.

The block's mostly dilapidated buildings are nondescript. It's not easy to tell what they once were or the last time they were maintained.

Little Habana is different. Outside the restaurant's doors, two big banners bearing its name and printed with Cuban flags flap in the wind. Passersby can hear reggaeton music blaring from speakers inside, evidence that the place is very much occupied.

But the restaurant's appearance and ambience aren't the only things that distinguish it.