Jamaican patties are hot, spicy, and conveniently fit in the palm of your hand. And if you’ve never been to Jamaica, you can get a taste of one of the island’s comfort food staples across Miami. When judging a patty, it comes down to the crust, filling, and the balance of heat (both temperature and spice). In a city home to as many Jamaican ex-pats as Miami, there are a lot of places to choose from, so it all depends on what type of experience you want to have and whether you’re a bigger fan of the filing or the crust. Here are six of the best.
Husband and wife team, Anson and Cheryl Chin, are the owners and operators of Jamaica Kitchen, and they’ve been handing patties to customers from the same location since 1976. They’ve had the same patty chef since 1986, so needless to say, customers can count on consistency. They serve seven different patties - beef (spicy/mild/cheesy), chicken (curry/jerk), spinach, and vegetable - and while their patties don’t have the flakiest crust, they still have a nice crunch and are thick enough to hold the fillings in place as you eat. A red dot on the top of the crust will remind you that you picked a spicy one, so proceed with caution.
If you prefer a meaty filling in your patty over the crunch of a thick crust, then Hammond’s is your best bet. The crust isn’t super flaky - instead, it’s thin and lacks a gold color, but you can taste the pepper and thyme in it before you reach the filling. And since the crust is thinner, you get more filling, along with a stronger scotch bonnet pepper flavor. We like the generous filling in these patties, despite the lack of crunch and flake of the crust, and if you like curry and spice as much as we do, then you’ll enjoy these too. Hammond’s serves a variety of patties: beef (mild/spicy/spicy cheesy), chicken (mild/jerk), callaloo, vegetarian, and ackee and saltfish. They also offer a cocktail patty option that allows you to pre-order custom bite-size patties in all the same flavors.
As you probably guessed, Sonia’s specializes in patties - and they’re delicious. This popular shop’s been in the same Kendall location for more than 30 years, and all of the patties are flaky, baked fresh, and made to order. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the shop only carries three of the dozen patties that it used to: beef (mild and spicy) and curry chicken, but all three are arguably still some of the best in Miami. The patties are golden, the beef is spiced right without the scotch bonnet pepper taking the lead over the other ingredients, and the filling is finely minced instead of mixed into a paste. Keep in mind that when they say “spicy” here, they mean it. So, we recommend you sandwich a spicy patty between two pieces of coco bread. It will help balance the heat of the spice and the temperature of the patty that will most likely be steaming hot and fresh out of the oven.
Leighton and Keisha Walters took over The Patty Place five years ago to continue the legacy of this well-known shop that opened more than three decades ago in North Miami. The patties have a simple hard crust that isn’t too flaky, and they’re baked fresh daily, made as you wait, and given to you to go in a clear plastic bag (unfortunately there’s no outdoor seating here). They have minced beef (mild/spicy), chicken (curry), ackee and saltfish, shrimp, vegetable, and callaloo. Their patties are more savory than spicy, so go ahead and order the spicy version if you’re looking for some heat.
You can hear the reggae music playing outside Jamrock Cuisine before you even step through the door. And while this family-owned restaurant, managed by Sony and Marci Chang and their daughter Serina, gets their patties from a local distributor, you can still count on the crunch of a golden, flaky crust and tasty fillings that you can enjoy at one of their two outdoor tables next to the entrance. Beyond the standard beef, chicken, and vegetable patties, they offer a spinach version instead of callaloo. You can also order a plantain tart here, which is similar to a patty with mashed sweet plantains that isn’t overly sweet.
There are five different Taste Rite locations in South Florida, but the one on 2nd Ave in Miami Gardens is where the magic happens. All their patties are baked here and then shipped to the other locations throughout South Florida. Like most mass-producing bakeries, there’s a little filler in their beef patties, so it’s more of a meat paste than minced meat inside. But if you like a super flaky, golden crust and a generously sized patty, this is the place to go. The Taste Rite slogan is, “One bite is never enough!” which is why you might want to try a few different patties while you’re here. There are nine options to choose from, including a lobster and shrimp, but unlike most places on this guide, Taste Rite doesn’t offer a mild beef option.