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Nov 11, 2009 10:47 AM

Pimento Grill in Anacostia - Report

Based on a recommendation by monkeyrotica for jerk chicken, I ventured to Anacostia to this very nice Jamaican place to see what they offered.

I never got to the jerk chicken.

They offered me samples of their curry and their brown stew, and I was hooked. Totally phenomenal. I was served an absolutely perfect plate of food. It was gorgeous to look at and had depth of flavor that is rarely attained. For the first time ever, I wish I had a camera with me, it was that beautiful.

I chose the oxtail brown stew and got a rice and peas combo. Also got cabbage on the side. The oxtail was expertly braised and the sauce was dark and rich. There is a sign stating they now have to charge for extra sauce because it's so expensive to make, and I believe it. The rice and peas looked beautiful too and were exquisite. Perfect fluffy rice, and the spices had gathered around the beans to seal in the flavor. I order cabbage a lot, and it is usually passable. This was great cabbage, by a cook who understood cabbage. And again, it looked gorgeous. This food could have been on the cover of a magazine.

The curry was also sensational. You will not finds a better Jamaican curry anywhere.

The stew or curry can be ordered with chicken, and there is also goat on the menu. There is a selection of seafood as well with shrimp, tilapia, salmon, and kingfish. The chicken and the seafood can be orderd jerked.

They have four homemade drinks: carrot and lime, cucumber ginger, grapefruit lemonade, and raspberry tea. They gave me samples. They are all great, but the cucumber ginger is strong stuff. I got the carrot and lime. If you order a large, they'll give you a really huge cup that looks like a lifetime suppply.

It is in a mostly quiet, residential area off Southern Ave. Even though it looks like a carryout operation, there is a table as well as a counter to sit at. Everything inside looks attractive and new. You can't eat better than this.

Pimento Grill Restaurant
4405 Bowen Rd SE, Washington, DC 20019

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  1. Finally got out here. Mid-afternoon weekday, and the place had a steady stream of customers, all of whom seemed to be regulars. Basically, Steve is right -- this is a gem; food cooked with a lot of love. The proprietor is very proud of his product -- eager to share (he offered me a taste of delicious mixed veggies he had just cooked up) -- and rightly so. The jerk seasoning, fwiw, is very mild. He told me that when he has increased the spicing, his customer base complains. (Apparently jerk in southern Jamaica is much less spicy than in Northern Jamaica, and more of his customers are used to the former.) So it's on the sweet side (and he offers a Jerk/BBQ hybrid that's even sweeter). But it's all very flavorful, and the brown stew was just as Steve described it.

    My ginger/cuke drink was not too sweet, but not at all strong -- in fact, it could use more of both ginger and cuke. (I love strong ginger things.) All of which is to say that good as this place is, I think it would be better still if it did not tone down the stronger flavors as much (but perhaps that wouldn't be a wise business strategy).

    Pimento Grill should have much greater Chow visibility.

    Pimento Grill Restaurant
    4405 Bowen Rd SE, Washington, DC 20019

    3 Replies
    1. re: Marty L.

      Glad you liked it.... but what took you so long? ;-)

      I don't order jerk anymore unless I see lots of smoke pouring out of the kitchen. A restaurant can't do it. Basically, it is barbecue.

      I've been to Boston (Jamaica, not Massachusetts), the origin of jerk chicken in the extreme northeast of Jamaica. Traveling around Jamaica, I saw that jerk by the side of the road is often referred to simply as "Boston," hand drawn on a piece of cardboard.

      You can ask for spicy or mild. Chicken or pork. What makes it unique is the wood, pimento I think. it is smoked out in the open in front of Boston Bay. Corrugated roofing material (part of the charm, if not flavor) is placed over the bbq.

      I think John B. once joked on Chowhound, in response to a rec for jerk chicken, "Do they use corrugated roofing?"

      Fortunately, in the DC area, we have 'real' jerk chicken, an extreme rarity. Though don't expect pimento wood. Or roofing material. Just Jerk in Lanham. It is a small roadhouse right outside the beltway. You can eat in, though from the outside it looks like carry-out only. It should be included in any discussion of serious bbq in the DC area. Get the quarter dark spicy. But don't let two years go by.

      Just Jerk
      9005 Lanham Severn Rd, Lanham, MD 20706

      1. re: Steve

        FYI Muffin Man Carribean Bakery a mile up from Just Jerk does an excellent curried goat and oxtail. Have not tried their jerk though. They've got a Coming Soon sign in Hilltop Plaza in Bowie but it's been there for nearly a year.

      2. re: Marty L.

        I can now report that the goat curry is great, too. This truly is one of the best deals in town!

      3. Finally got to try this place and glad I did. I tried both the oxtail stew and the goat curry. I liked them both but slightly prefer the goat curry. The cucumber ginger drink is good, strong ginger flavor but almost as sweet as sweet tea. Staff is very helpful and friendly. A steady crowd at lunch, mostly for carry out. Next time I'm in the area I'll be back.

        1. Is it possible to get there without a car (relying only on public transportation)? We will be in DC next weekend and this place sounds terrific. Also, is it a safe neighborhood during the day? Is there anything else we should try to see on our way to and from this resto?

          5 Replies
          1. re: soccermom13

            Google map and the WMATA bus map are your friends.
            They're showing a W4 bus to the Benning Road metro station (Blue Line) which gets you closest. Without commenting on the safety of the neighborhood, I would not recommend walking. I can't think of anything nearby that's tourist-destination worthy.

            1. re: soccermom13

              I've been there four times, always by car. I doubt it would ever occur to me to go there via public transportation as it is in a very remote location, just shy of the DC/MD line in far Southeast DC. It is separated from downtown DC by the Anacostia River and further isolated by the massive Fort Dupont Park where there is a series of summer concerts.

              I feel perfectly safe during the day. The area is very quiet. If you go, call first just to make sure they're open.

              Go on Google Maps, you'll get a better view:

              4405 Bowen Ave., SE
              Washington, DC 20019

              The major tourist destination across the Anacostia River is the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site which is unfortunately not convenient to the metro or to Pimento Grill. I highly recomend it, but most people are going by car.

              1. re: Steve

                I'd be all over this place if we were getting a car. It sounds terrific. But it doesn't sound like a good choice for us bc we will be using public transportation and we don't have tons of time.
                Thank you so very much for your detailed answer.

                1. re: soccermom13

                  You could always get a cab or use the Uber app. Much more Chow-worthy than many of the "Top Ten Places You MUST Try in DC" listicle bait eateries you'd find in foodie blogs.