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Apr 12, 2007 07:43 AM

Best Carribean

Hi all...boyfriend and I love Jamaican food and were wondering if you could recommend a great spot. We were in Jamaica recently and fell in love with Ackee & Saltfish, rice and peas, etc. Thanks in advance...

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      1. re: LFeinberg

        Marooons blows away Negril. We got married in Jamacia and have been there 5 times. The Jamacian food at Maroons is very authentic. The jerk chicken is fall off the bone and nice and spicey. The king fish is prepared in the traditional style and is outstanding.

        1. re: princeofpork

          What does "authentic" mean? Don't get me wrong--I like the food at both places, both are fun spots, but I never use the term authentic when describing them as they rarely serve what people really eat. They serve what Americans like and the seasoning level is very dumbed down. FYI, typically the average Caribbean household cooks far better food than found in most Manhattan spots. Last time I went to Negril and Maroons I didn't see any sawed-off oil drums there with jerk being made--that's how most BBQ is made in the Caribbean.

          1. re: Ora

            The oil drums outside are probably not legal in Manhattan, though I've seen a lot on the sidewalks of Bed-Stuy/Flatbush. If you ask on Outer Boroughs they'll tell you where. Sietsema likes this place best:

            1. re: Brian S

              Right. On White Plains Road, in good weather, oil drums with jerk meats are readily visible in good weather. Now, that's authentic (tough smoky)!

              1. re: Ora

                Yeah, now that you mention it, the best jerk chicken i've had came from White Plains Rds near 241st Street in the Bronx. There is also a small chain Caribbean Delight (I think) that has good food in Baychester (across from the #2 line).

            2. re: Ora

              when I went to jamaica, we did a jerk pork and jerk chicken "tour" (okay, we went to maybe 5 places total during a one-week trip) and the grills were amazing! Huge sheets of industrial grills and screens, maybe 4 feet by 4 feet, with lit hardwood underneath, and whole butterflied chickens and huge chunks of bone-in pork arrayed across the screens. if you ordered a fish, a whole snapper would be wrapped with foil, then stabbed a few times for flavor and smoke, and thrown on the grill. then the whole thing covered in branches of peppercorn trees so you got a smokiness from the branches and some weight on the top of the meat and then covered with another huge sheet of corrugated steel, the kind you'd find on construction sites. and the meat would sit under and in between this amazing apparatus for as long as it takes for it all to get done; the best part was rolling up to a jerk stand and having to wait around for the meat to get done, but it was a party anyway. after a red stripe and maybe a festival or two, the grill guy caught your eye, pulled off a whole chicken and chop chop went the cleaver. all the meat was bone-in, all of it was delicious and all topped with some homemade jerk sauce that might be on the counter. all that in combination with the ackee breakfasts, and unbelievable fruit (the avocado was enormous, maybe 10" from end to end) made the entire trip one of my better eating experiences outside of the states.

              with that said, I haven't had any good jerk in nyc; ended up at negril (both locations) with very mediocre food (booji might be the word but it is sort of an upmarket place) and had food from maroons (catered, so that might be why) as well as random jerk in southern queens and in bed-stuy; all good, but none as good as during my travels. I'll have to keep checking this thread for additional recs from ya'll.

            3. re: princeofpork

              By the way, Maroons is opening a second location in Harlem on 145th Street. It is under construction as we speak.

        2. I haven't tried Maroons, and now I think I'll have to, I pass it almost everyday! But I must say that I had one seriously good meal at Negril recently. Quite possibly the hottest thing I've ever eaten, but in a way that was insanely tasty. And all those chile endorphins put me in the best of moods for more than a week. I had the Shrimp Negril.

          On a different end of the dining spectrum, have you tried Golden Krust yet? I saw a really inspiring program on one of the public TV stations about the family who started the business. The franchises have really started to take off, and I've been curious to give them a taste. If I only knew someone who'd actually been, I'd go in a heartbeat. Maybe I need to be the someone, eh?

          10 Replies
          1. re: ballulah

            Golden Crust makes some of the best patties in the city. They have a nice variety of flavors from standard beef to shrimp. They are inexpensive enough to try them all and they quite filling.

            1. re: Uptownflavor

              I love patties...they're one of my favorites! There's a Golden Crust right by me.
              Have you ever been to Caribbean Spice in Hell's Kitchen?

              1. re: LFeinberg

                No I haven't. Sorry. I find that a lot of Jamaican places make their patties with a thick crust whereas Golden Crust tends to by light and flaky (with a little sweetness to them). I also find that many use the frozen variety that they sell in the corner delis...steer clear of those. Dry and flavorless.

                1. re: Uptownflavor

                  tower isle? for sure, the sign of a LACK of quality. I like the sybil's patties and also some of the patties at uptown juice bar on 125th street (but those are all veg and hence, no real beef patties).

              2. re: Uptownflavor

                Golden Krust is my favorite chain for ready-to-eat food in New York, but having said that, it's just a good cheap chain, and by no means is it the best in anything. I've had way better patties at a couple of independent places on Flatbush. But as for Anglo-Caribbean food in Manhattan, I really couldn't tell you much. I used to enjoy Daphne's on E. 14th St. from time to time - cheap comfort food, and a terrific value - but it's closed. I haven't tried Maroons or Negril.

                1. re: Pan

                  I find that they have the best patties of all the chains. Of course there may be indies in the outer boroughs but for a decent patty in Manhattan that is pretty much the way to go.

                  1. re: Uptownflavor

                    You may be right. But what other chains have Jamaican patties?

                    1. re: Pan

                      There are other chains...just not many. I think there is one called Caribbean Delight. What happened was Golden Crust bought out a lot of places about 5 years ago when they were having a growth spurt. Basically they have monopolized the market.

                      1. re: Uptownflavor

                        Another area - albeit out of the way - where you can check out venues other than Golden Crust is the Laurelton (Queens) section of Merrick Boulevard. There is a stretch of about 5 or 6 blocks, hugging the Long Island border, where you can take your pick. I had a part-time gig out there a few years back, and it seemed like I always had a patty, tucked into a fresh piece of coco bread (which is the way the locals like them).

                        I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant I was sitting in when I overheard two West Indian women talking about the recipe for cooking Doctor fish. Come to think of it, I wish I could remember the recipe....

              3. re: ballulah

                Oh, definitely try Maroons, though I personally prefer the soul food offerings. Fried chicken, mac 'n cheese, collard greens, etc. are all great. At Negril, I really like their rotis. OP, if you really want the good stuff, make sure to check out some of the places in Brooklyn, e.g., around Atlantic Avenue. Do a post on the outer boroughs board and you should get lots of responses...

              4. I second the rec for Maroons. Great southern food too. Haven't been to Negril.

                1. There's a huge Caribbean community in Flatbush Brooklyn (I used to eat in a place where an old lady cooked in a tin-roofed shack while her son grilled on an oil drum outside), and you might want to try the outer boroughs board. I'm suggesting this only because I notice that you favor cuisines which you can find in excellence and abundance in Queens (e.g. Mexican and Thai) but you never post on Outer Boroughs.

                  1. If you find good ackee & saltfish (none of the replies mention it specifically), please, please report back. I'm crazy for the stuff. When I was last in Jamaica, my friend tried to convince me that it was healthier than lox & eggs, which it sorta resembles. It isn't, of course -- hello, palm oil! -- but who cares.

                    I've had the callaloo patty at Golden Crust. It was eh.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: small h

                      You all are so helpful! I can't wait to try all of these places and I'm not afraid to travel to the outer boroughs to find the best ackee & saltfish, patties, etc! Thank you all.

                      1. re: LFeinberg

                        You should try Orchid. That's on 675 9th ave between 46th and 47th st. They were pretty good.

                        1. re: wench31

                          I had an interesting discussion with the owner/chef at Orchid. She has reduced the seasoning and heat level of her food to accomodate the American low tolerance for highly seasoned-peppery food. I understand her reason for doing this dumbing down--she needs business. But now I find the food lacks the flavor that it had when they first opened. Too bad, they had great rotiand food in general, but now I find too plain and simply seasoned.

                          1. re: Ora

                            Islands on Washington in BK.
                            Delicious jerk chicken.