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Best Jamaican restaurant

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Hi everyone!

I posted this in the Manhattan board, and it was kindly suggested I also post here.


I'm looking to take a friend out for dinner when I arrive in NYC, and need some suggestions for great Jamaican restaurants. I know that he doesn't like Negril, or Maroons (in Manhattan), which both seem to get great reviews. It would be fantastic if anyone knows of somewhere that will serve pigs' tails and stew peas - I'll get extra brownie points if I can find somewhere that has both of these ;-) Not fussy about location, or atmosphere, as such. Just looking for great quality, authentic Jamaican food.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Fisherman's Cove serves stew peas on Friday. Call ahead to make sure.

    B/Q to Newkirk Avenue

    Fisherman's Cove
    37 Newkirk Plz
    Brooklyn, NY 11226
    (718) 859-1580

    1. A lot of the tastiest Jamaican food out here isn't really served in restaurants -- they're more like takeout joints. A few actually have tables, but they're not much for ambiance. For really incredible jerk chicken, go to Peppa's Jerk Chicken at Flatbush and Clarkson, near Prospect Park.

      If you're looking more for a nice sit down place, Brawta on Atlantic and Hoyt is decent.

      2 Replies
      1. re: oolah

        I wouldn't recommend Brawta - in my opinion it hasn't been good in about a decade. (It used to be very good back when its clientele was more Caribbean than local professionals.)

        1. re: oolah

          i agree. i like KAYLAHS HUT in the bronx. its bare bones, but they are always cooking and they have all the basics. they have a few seats inside that you can easily get, i usually eat in there myself, but its mostly takeout. i find this fairly typical for most jamaican joints.

          fyi -- KH is on prospect at westchester in the bronx -- the 2,5 train stop is prospect. i go for lunch sometimes. if the grill is out front you are money for jerk!

        2. Thanks for the recs!

          Take out is probably fine as well, if you have any other suggestions :-)

          7 Replies
          1. re: abyss

            I havent been for a few years (is it still there??) but Daphne's on E 23rd street used to be good.

            1. re: jen kalb

              I think you mean Daphne's at 233 East 14th between 2nd and 3rd, closer to 2nd Ave. Excellent. Informal.

              1. re: gpcohen

                the jerk pork at daphne's is excellent.

                1. re: gpcohen

                  you'r right, sorry for any misdirection.

                  1. re: gpcohen

                    Man oh man, they had great jerk pork at Daphne's. But they closed a couple of years ago (or were absorbed into The Blue Mahoe restaurant down the block, after which the Daphne standards never tasted quite the same). Has the old Daphne's reopened?

                    1. re: racer x

                      not to my knowledge - thats really too bad.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Daphnes got incorporaqted into the bagel place across the street on 14th street having tried it yet in its new location but there are tables

              2. Kelso Dining on Franklin near St. Marks in Brooklyn is a nice, sit-down place catering to the migrant Jamaica gone a Panama crowd. Nice stew peas, a dish which may feature pig tails.

                1. Joyce', on Avenue D, just east of Utica, has some awesome food, and a decent-sized sitting area as well. I've had the jerk chicken, oxtail stew, beef and goat rotis, to name a few items, and am always impressed with the quality of ingrediants, cooking and presentation.

                  1. Thanks everyone for the recommendations :-)

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: abyss

                      how about islands on washington? here's an older ny times review...


                      and christies on flatbush for beef patties and baked goods?

                      some people in the neighborhood also suggest the ginger root cafe on washington ave but i haven't been.

                      good luck!

                      1. re: oystersallday

                        Soule at Fulton and Washington in Prospect Heights is good. And if you don't like the menu there, you can walk around for five minutes and pass 15 other Caribbean restaurants

                        1. re: demigodh

                          McKenzie's on Utica between Carroll and Crown has excellent jerk and many other things on their steam table. not sure what but i'll bet it's all good.

                          1. re: HankyT

                            mckenzie's is amazing! i've only had the jerk chicken, but it was memorable. this would probably be my number one pick.

                            1. re: wleatherette

                              I went to McKenzie's last night around 830pm for some jerk chicken based on the recommendations here. After being ignored for what seemed like a couple of minutes, one of the two counter guys cum cooks barked at me that there wasn't any jerk chicken, I should come back after an hour. If it weren't for the wondrous aroma emanating from the barrel barbeque grill on the sidewalk outside the store, that would have been my last visit to that shop. But I'll give them another chance ...

                              1. re: racer x

                                Sorry you met with a less than warm reception at McKenzie's. They can be pretty brusque in my experience. Still, their jerk is excellent -best I've found in the city so far - and is well worth the flack. Do give them another shot.

                                1. re: burton

                                  Went back Sat night. The chicken was good, although I've had better in this city; some of the bits were slightly burnt. The portions were huge - the "medium" order I got seemed to be a very generous 3 or 4 pounds of chicken crammed into a 7-inch takeout tin. And the woman behind the counter was very friendly, unlike the man who'd been working there the previous time I went.

                                  But the wait is merciless. There were a half-dozen people queued up for chicken when I arrived. After a 20-min wait, the chicken came in from the grill outside. By this time, another dozen people had come in and filled the waiting area. The chicken ran out after I and those ahead of me were served, leaving the remaining dozen to wait for another order to be cooked up.

                                  I'd only suggest this place if you are prepared to wait a looong time.

                                  1. re: racer x

                                    Just a follow up on McKenzie's. I've gotten bbq jerk chicken from them 4 times in the past few months. On 3 out of 4 visits, the chicken was partly burnt. The other one time it was delicious.

                                    75% burnt is not a very good batting average. I should have known better on the most recent visit because it was at night (thus dark out) and there was so much smoke coming from the charcoal that the cook was using a flashlight to see what was going on on the grill (not a good sign).

                                    Plus the wait for your order is always long. The only good thing about the experience is that you get a generous serving for your money.

                                    In sum, McKenzie's is fine if you're in the neighborhood, but I wouldn't go across town for their chicken unless you are prepared to wait a long time and don't mind getting chicken that is partly burnt.

                            2. re: HankyT

                              Is this Brooklyn? Any good places like this in the Bronx?

                              1. re: nbermas

                                Yes, McKenzie's is on Utica Ave in Brooklyn, not far from Utica and Eastern Pkwy. The one good thing about the place is that you know your chicken is freshly cooked cuz it disappears as soon as it comes off the grill. (Nobody was touching the stewed chicken and other stuff on the steam table, however. The rice & peas looked liked they'd been there for ages.)

                                I'm still looking for a decent place in the Bronx. Let me know if you find one. The Feeding Tree, by Yankee Stadium, is often praised, but I've never been impressed by their food (most recently just a few months ago).

                                1. re: nbermas

                                  You might want to try Good Dine at 3922 White Plains Road. I've been laid up with broken ankle for more than a month and my sister wanted to go on a mission of mercy to bring me something spicy to eat (I'm a confirmed chile-head), Her doorman in Riverdale insisted that she go the Good Dine and she brought me oxtail stew, spicy shrimp (I don't know what they are called on the menu, but that's what they were) and jerked chicken along with sides of cabbage and stew peas. It was all good and some was way better than good. I'm heading over there for more as soon as I am mobile. I gather that it is mostly takeout oriented but there is some sort of seating available.

                              2. re: demigodh

                                not about food, but that side of Atlantic is not Prospect Hts, its Clinton Hill.

                              3. re: oystersallday

                                Islands is much better for take-out and delivery than eating in -- unless you have a LOT of time on your hands. Our last visit, our food arrived almost exactly ninety minutes after we sat down upstairs. We had plenty of time to watch a steady stream of to-go orders and deliveries preempt us. Major bummer.

                                1. re: Pulpio

                                  the seating area isn't very comfortable, either. it's better to get take-out and chat with the ladies behind the counter. there's a good chance that they'll offer cups of their incredibly strong rum punch.

                                  1. re: wleatherette

                                    I respectfully disagree, I ate upstairs at Islands a few months and had a great time despite the fact that the two ladies had the flu and a large harried man was cooking...one of the flu ladies came in and set up the upstairs dining loft, which is a testament to what you can do with a teeny tiny space. I thought it was delicious and charming. The jerk was not what I consider traditional jerk, it seemed more stewed, but still good.

                                  2. re: Pulpio

                                    Nice thread abt The Islands - although I've always thoroughly enjoyed the chicken, also - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/368814

                              4. I hear that Ripe Restaurant in Mount Vernon is very good and you might want to look at there web site. I get there mail and they always have fabulous events and there menu looks very interesting.

                                1. Christies on Flatbush Ave. just north of Grand Army Plaza has superb patties and excellent jerk chicken. It an informal small sit down place but the food, for the most part, is precooked and served from a steam table, rather then cooked to order. They have a homemmade jerk hot sauce that is truly killer. Worth the trip for the hot sauce alone!

                                  1. Sugar Cane on Flatbush is upscale, somewhat pricey, and if you are picky probably more Trinadad than Jamaica.

                                    1. Does anyone know of any Jamaican restaurant in Queens? My Jamaican girlfriend is going crazy! :)

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: astoriafoodie

                                        I've heard very good things about The Door, a Jamaican restaurant in Jamaica, Queens, but I haven't been there myself as yet.

                                        1. re: racer x

                                          we've used The Door to cater functions at our church. Based on that experience (probably not the best way to experience it), Id say their food is very good but not earth-shatteringly great. It was a hit with the Jamaican and other caribbean folks in the church. It would definitely be worth a try for people in the area.

                                        2. re: astoriafoodie

                                          There is an amazing place on Sutphin in the Lnden vicinity that is outrageously good. That's all I'm saying.

                                          1. re: rootytootyfreshnfrooty

                                            > There is an amazing place on Sutphin in the Lnden vicinity that is outrageously good. That's all I'm saying.

                                            Then why post?

                                        3. Like another poster, am a fan of Ripe Kitchen and Bar and am on their email list as well. Think the web site is www.riperestaurant.com. Authentic but innovative at the same time. Think the chef's two wins over Bobby Flay on Throwdown spoke to the restaurant's standards though it is not very pretentious.