June is Caribbean-American Heritage Month. Celebrate by noshing on doubles, patties, mini tacos, jerk chicken, mofongo, and other Caribbean specialties at one of our five favorite Caribbean restaurants in New York City. By Jessica Allen.
The Islands, a popular restaurant in Crown Heights, doesn’t look like much: it has a cramped ground-floor kitchen, a metal staircase so steep you climb it with your hands, and a dark, dingy second-floor dining room populated by six tables and some flea-market paintings. But nobody comes for the atmosphere. Instead, the crowds gather for the stews and sauces, including jerk chicken (pictured) and calypso shrimp, a spicy, citrusy, coconutty delight.
A doubles (grammar nerds take note: doubles is always plural, even when it’s singular) is a Trinidadian street food that squishes curried chick pea stew between two hyper-moist pieces of flatbread. It’s not quite a sandwich, but it’s not quite a taco either. Try one for yourself at A & A Bake and Doubles Shop. Say “yes” to the hot sauce, made from scotch bonnet peppers, and “absolutely” to the napkins. You’re going to need them.
Of all the restaurants on this list, Miss Lily’s is the fanciest. You don’t need to break out a tuxedo to eat at this Soho establishment, mind you, but you might want to leave the shabby sweatpants at home. After all, people come here as much to hang out with celebs and models as for the Caribbean specialties like jaquitos (mini tacos) or Jamaican patties (pictured) stuffed with vegetables, curry chicken, or beef.
The ambiance at Glady’s, in Crown Heights, is colorful and vibrant, the menu simple and elegant. Dishes include curry goat, oxtail stew, smoked duck sausage, and a few more. But it’s jerk we love and jerk we order when we go. In addition to that old standby jerk chicken, you can get jerk seitan, jerk lobster, and jerk pork. Tame the spice with a “slushie,” such as the Scully Court Cooler, made from bitters, pineapple, lime, and bourbon.
Located in the Moore Street Market, near where Williamsburg becomes Bushwick, Ramonita’s Restaurant is a humble lunch counter / steam table joint. Although a large bilingual menu hangs on the wall, it serves more as a statement of possibilities than a description of what is actually available on any given day. When it’s available, and some version usually is, order the mofongo, mashed plantains combined with pork cracklings and spices.