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Jan 16, 2008 08:19 AM

Goat Roti at Penny's Caribbean Cafe

Has anyone tried Penny’s Caribbean café (2836 Sacramento St. Berkeley)?

I’ve been there 3 times (well actually more than that but that’s another story) and like it quite a bit.

The roti is layered and flaky and studded with crumbled chickpeas. It is huge and the filling is served over it Ethiopian style. One roti makes a very large lunch, I generally have some left over for later and I’m a pretty big eater. Leftovers are great straight out of the fridge and amazing reheated in the oven – a crisp crust on a reheated roti makes it better than the original.

Anyhow the curried goat is great. Gamy meat in a rich curry sauce that I could have sworn had a prominent mustard/mustard seed flavor, but penny assures me it is the flavor of peppers and that there is no mustard in the recipe.

The jerk chicken is also quite good, nice and spicy and tangy. But good goat is hard to pass up on the menu after driving across town.

The goat and the chicken must be roasted before going into the sauce as they both have a good crusty exterior although the meat is quite tender.

One warning – Penny’s is a one-woman operation and Penny is not the most punctual employee. I believe the sign out front says they open at noon but if you show up before 1PM there’s a good chance Penny won’t be there yet. Twice I’ve been by between 12 and 1 and there were no signs of life. Another time I was just turning to leave at 1:15 when Penny shows up, explaining the weather was so nice she decided to take a walk on the way to work and lost track of time.

Anyhow, it’s a funky joint that makes unique and tasty food and worth a try IMHO.

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  1. Sounds like Penny is a true West Indian, Which means you may have to wait, but as it is in Islands, It's worth it !

    1. Very tasty, yes, but I wish they were about half the size (and 3/4 the price) and that the wrapping wasn't quite so delicate. Very difficult to eat one of those monstrosities on the go (or at a ballgame or whatever). And the wait...ugh...tough when you need to be somewhere...

      Taste reminded me of Barbados though. I just remember them being cheaper and and a little more portable.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Civil Bear

        Yes, the wait can be long. I've taken to calling my order in first (510.486.1202). That way I know Penny has actually arrived, and my roti will be waiting.

        Also, if you're eating on the go, watch out for those little shards of bone.

        As for price - $7.50 for chicken and $8 for goat does not seem out of line to me.

        Anyhow, thanks for the reply.

        1. re: Civil Bear

          A picturesque beach bar shack is a lot cheaper than a storefront in Berkeley. Even on San Pablo. And around here it's not "grab a goat from the backyard, mon!" The prices are reasonable especially for the amount you get.

        2. Linking:

          Penny's Caribbean Cuisine
          2836 Sacramento St, Berkeley, CA

          4 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            A warning. Make sure you call to check if this place is open before you go. We went here at about 5 PM today, and we saw a notice in the window saying - "Closed until further notice".

            1. re: osho

              Still closed!!
              Is she Ok? is she going to open it up again/?

              1. re: rdabke

                It's actually looking even -more- closed than before. I had a quick look
                in the window walking by this afternoon and it looks as though things
                are being taken out. Drat.

                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                  I was thinking later on that i should have asked the neighbouring shop. They would have known what happened.

          2. For an epilogue on Penny's and what happened, the East Bay Express has an article about all the closed African/Soul/Carribean restaurants where they interview the owner, Ann Penny Baten

            I feel bad about Penny's, but it might have helped had she kept reliable hours. However, it is sad to read about the end of a dream.

            Besides talking about over a half dozen closed restaurants, they mention restaurants on the edge. If you like Nellie's, give them some business.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rworange

              The ebe article is really interesting. I posted a comment there but since the comment was more about business than food, I won't repeat it here. I do hope Pican survives this rotten economy, tho'.