Don't be surprised when mid-tattoo session at Ocho Placas, a neighbor drops by to hand out Cuban coffee for everyone in the room; that's just the type of vibe that emanates from this neighborhood shop in Little Havana. Fifteen years in and plenty of celebrity clients later (including Lil Wayne and Birdman), Ocho Placas is still affordable and faithful to its relaxed, artistic beginnings. Vibrantly crafted pieces line the walls as artists and customers bounce friendly banter back and forth — a nice distraction from the pain throbbing from the piercing tat gun. Though the shop is best known for its classic American work, thanks to an expansion — including a new second floor — in 2013, the eight resident artists and renowned out-of-town guests ink their indelible marks in all forms and styles. Owners John Vale and Javier Betancourt, who carry the torch from late founder Jose Carreras, are true artists. (Vale sings in local punk band Furious Dudes, while Betancourt recently launched the multimedia project This Is Meant to Hurt You, to "re-imagine subjects that have been traditionally maligned by polite society," such as tattoos and fetishism.) As one customer summed it up: Ocho Placas is "a quality tattoo place that puts the bullshit aside and outputs some great shit."
Readers' choice: Ocho Placas