Chef Niven Patel's Guide to the Perfect Weekend in Miami

Croissants, a hammock park, and an excellent fish sandwich are all part of the highly opinionated guide from 2020 F&W Best New Chef Niven Patel.

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Photo: Illustration by Julianna Brion

Niven Patel came to Miami for a job seven years ago but stayed for the vibrancy and energy of the city and its people. The 2020 Food & Wine Best New Chef leads five restaurant concepts under his company Aya Hospitality. He fell in love with the Homestead area south of the city and bought a house and a two-acre farm, affectionately known as Rancho Patel, where he lives with his wife and twin girls. Here are his favorite weekend spots to dine, explore, and shop in Miami. --Melanie Hansche

Morning Routines

"I start with a croissant from Zak the Baker, top it with sliced tomato from Michael Borek Farms, which grows the best heirloom tomatoes ever, and sprinkle it with sea salt and a little Kashmiri chile powder. It's not a traditional way to eat a croissant, but it's delicious!"

"If I'm looking for something sweeter, the cinnamon rolls from Knaus Berry Farm are the only dessert I actively seek out. It's a farm in Homestead that's open from October to April and serves the best rolls and milkshakes. The lines can get long, but it's worth the wait."

"For bread, one of the most satisfying loaves is from Madruga Bakery. I drizzle it with some good olive oil and cracked pepper. Since they're so close to my restaurants, I often pick up goodies to share during family meal."

Shop Small, Shop Local

"La Tiendecita by Martha of Miami is a little retail store in Westchester with unique gifts that are made or curated by the owner, Martha. Her colorful collection of clothing, home decor, and accessories definitely speaks to the spirit of the city."

Getting Those Steps In

"Matheson Hammock Park feels like walking into a rain forest. It's never crowded and so relaxing. Pro tip: Once you pass mile marker 8 on the trail (I only remember this because it was Kobe Bryant's number), wander off a bit and you'll encounter some cool foliage. The Pérez Art Museum Miami is my other go-to place. The space is stunning and overlooks the bay. They usually have outdoor installations for the community to enjoy. It's also part of Maurice A. Ferré Park, which features the Frost Museum of Science, a place I can't wait to take my daughters when they're a bit older."

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Illustration by Julianna Brion

Drinking, Dining & Sleeping

Just a Little Bit Fancy

"I'll start with a cocktail on the rooftop bar at [my newest restaurant] Mamey. For dinner, 'extravagant' and 'Miami' go hand in hand; there's no shortage of places. For me, the place to be is The Surf Club Restaurant. Not only is it a beautiful location, but the attention to detail is unparalleled."

Keeping It Casual

"I love sandwiches, and for the city's best version of its signature dish, it's a tie between the Cuban sandwich and its lesser-known cousin, the fish sandwich. For the former, I head to Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop, and for the latter-a sandwich with fresh fried grouper-you'll find me at Garcia's."

Sending You To Sleep

"I'm a little biased because two of my restaurants are on the property, but I tell friends to stay at THesis Hotel. It's in the city, but you feel like you've escaped the hustle. I also really love The Miami Beach EDITION; it's such a cool space and quintessentially Miami."

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