Whether you call them empanadas, patties, hand pies, or turnovers, they're fried pockets. And the most flavorful fried pockets in Miami come from Chez Katu. It’s a Haitian takeout spot in Miramar specializing in pate kode.
OK, we know that Miramar isn’t exactly within the limits of Miami-Dade County. Still, if you’re in the northern reaches of Dade, it can be less of a pain to get to than Wynwood or South Beach. But even if Miramar is, like, super far, bro—Katu's one-of-a-kind pate kode are totally worth the drive.
Chez Katu is only open from Thursday to Sunday, and loyal fans will drive from all corners of South Florida—and sometimes even further—to grab dozens of pate kode at a time. After all, it’s the only restaurant in the area solely and consistently dedicated to these handheld Haitian delicacies. Needless to say, the wait can be long, but only if you stop by unannounced. They have a user-friendly app for Android and iPhone, and using it to order ahead is the best way to avoid a long wait. You’ll get an alert when your food is ready to pick up.
The crusts on these pate kode are crispy and slightly chewy like a good fried empanada, but the similarities with their close Latino relatives end there. For starters, pate kode are traditionally eaten for breakfast (although there’s no wrong time to eat one), and one pate is meant to be as satisfying as a plate of rice, beans, stew, and plantains. That means a typical Haitian pate kode is nearly twice the size of your average empanada, and Chez Katu overstuffs theirs. But what really makes Chez Katu’s pate kode stand out from other versions of stuffed dough pockets in South Florida is how much bold flavor is packed into each bite
Start with the beef patty, for example. The ground beef is as saucy as picadillo and has a bright, tangy umami note from tomato paste and an assertive amount of garlic, along with onions, cloves, thyme, and scotch bonnet peppers—and those are just the seasonings we could identify. Katu also makes some other traditional Haitian breakfast pates, including salted cod (morue/bacalao) and an intense smoked herring (aransò) with hard-boiled egg. But the real draw here are the pate kode that break from tradition, like one featuring chopped griot and pikliz, a pepperoni pizza patty, and one stuffed with spicy Haitian makawoni graten (a.k.a. mac n’ cheese).
Most patties and empanadas benefit from a little zhuzhing up—a squirt of lime, some hot sauce—but Katu’s don't need anything at all. However, make sure to drizzle a little sweet and spicy Katu sauce on your pate kode. Get extra. Like a lot extra, because you will be slathering this stuff on everything throughout the week. If you need even more heat, get a side of the hot, tart pikliz, which is one of our favorite versions in South Florida.
This place is takeout only, and many people (including us) eat their pate kode in the car. Next time you have a crowd to feed, skip the pizza or the wings and pick up some Chez Katu. If only for a day, you’ll be the most popular person in Miami, even if you had to leave Miami to get them.
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Spinach And Cheese Pate
This is the best creamy spinach filling we’ve had anywhere in South Florida, and we wish we could buy quart-sized tubs of it and eat it with a spoon while admiring the fringed shalwar kameez on the heroine in a 1970s disco-themed Lollywood scene that popped up on our YouTube feed. It includes several types of cheese, including parmesan and cream cheese for extra lusciousness. We really love the chopped sundried tomatoes, too, which add bright pops of flavor to the rich filling.
Macaroni Gratine Pate
If Katu sold the macaroni filling on its own, this would be a mainstay at all our holiday meals. It’s that good. It features several kinds of cheese, some spicy Haitian seasoning and veggies that balance out the richness, but you can also add a scoop of beef to cut through it (as pictured). If you can't eat them straight from the fryer, order these frozen so you can cook it at home.
Griot And Pikliz Pate
This is a Chez Katu original, and the griot is perfect. It has crispy and fatty bits along with juicy, tender bits of super flavorful pork. That gets chopped up like pulled pork and loaded into a pate crust along with a layer of spicy, tangy pikliz. A dip in the sweet Katu sauce turns this pate from perfect to sublime.
While pizza empanadas can be a gimmicky throwaway item at a lot of places, these patties can actually compete with real pizza. Katu brilliantly combines pepperoni slices and mozzarella cheese with a lightly sweet tomato sauce that gives all the right pizza flavors. Feel free to impress your snobby pizza purist friends by calling these pate kode alla pizzaiola.