June is National Caribbean American Heritage Month, and it’s a great time to celebrate and learn about Caribbean culture and cuisine in New York City. I love to island hop in Flatbush’s Little Caribbean, especially during the summer, watching the community come alive with music, fashion, and festivals. But it’s also nice to lime (socialize) at home, and have authentic flavors delivered right to my stoop, whether that’s authentic Jamaican jerk, Trini or Guyanese roti, Grenadian oil down, oxtails, rice and peas, or flaky patties that taste just like back home. Here is a roundup of the best West Indian food on Caviar — which is also some of the best Caribbean food in North America!
1. Miss Lily's
Miss Lily’s is arguably the coolest Caribbean restaurant in New York City, with its dancehall decor and old New York City storefront. Best known for Jamaican classics like jerk chicken and stewed oxtail, I tend to go for fab remixes like jerk salmon, jerk ramen, jerk corn, or hot pepper shrimp, plus an ice cold brew off their Caribbean beer menu: They have Carib and Stripe, but I generally go for a Guinness!
2. The Islands
The Islands is a well-loved restaurant serving classics like oxtail, plantains, and curry goat served atop rice and peas. For a hearty lunch or dinner, I’d add okra with cod fish, jerk leg of lamb, or stew peas to the lineup. Pair your meal with sorrel, a flavorful beverage made from hibiscus flowers, cinnamon, and ginger, which is what gives this juice its pungent bite.
For my weekly roti fix, I almost always order from Suzy's. My go-to is the curry goat, ordered buss-up style with extra pumpkin or butternut squash and both pepper and tamarind sauces. Their flaky paratha roti skins transport me back to my childhood in Trinidad and my father’s platin (a type of cast-iron griddle) on Linden Boulevard. I’d strongly suggest eating roti like we do back home, unwrapped, dipping the buss-up into flavorful curries, stews, and chutneys.
Another local institution, the third-generation, family-owned establishment Gloria's is a must-stop for visitors and Brooklynites. While curries with roti are some of their most popular items, Gloria’s is also known for their Trini-style street food like pholourie — fried split pea fritters served with tamarind sauce. It’s best served with mauby, a bitter beverage made from bark with a hint of anise.
Located in the heart of Little Caribbean on Bob Marley Boulevard, Linda’s Restaurant is a venerable institution for authentic Caribbean breakfast like carilla & saltfish. My Guyanese-American friend and neighbor Pam swears by Linda's white pudding, a herby sausage made of rice, milk, and plait bread, often eaten during the winter holidays, paired with a traditional Guyanese pepper pot, an Amerindian meat stew flavored with cassareep, cinnamon, and Demerara sugar.
With their lineup of chicken, beef, or veggie patties with coco bread, Downtown Brooklyn’s Likkle More Jerk has to be on your list. Their Likkle Tings mini meals are perfect for lunch, with smaller portions of jerk pork or curry chicken with sides of rice, cole slaw, and oxtail gravy — a Caribbean delicacy.
Savvy takes classic Caribbean flavors — jerk, guava barbecue — and applies them to easy-to-transport, easy-to-love dishes like burgers, chicken sandwiches, and wings. It’s all delicious, especially when paired with a homemade Savvy lemonade.
For more Afro-Caribbean staples, sample Caribbean Vibes. Goat head soup, also known as mannish water or goat water, is a hearty broth prepared from goat parts, ground provisions, dumplings, habanero, and pimento seeds. That’s the standout.
Vee’s serves authentic dishes like stewed kidney and cow foot that showcase the rich Creole cuisine that’s rooted in Afro-Caribbean history. During rainy days or colder months, order fish both, and cow or chicken foot soups.
For late-night limes and weekend family gatherings, my preferred restaurant is Royal Cuisine Yard Food. Their catering menu has tried and tested, family-approved dishes like whole jerk wings, rasta pasta, and full pans of jerk chicken with spicy sauces that you can pair with D&G, Ting, or peanut punch — a flavorful West Indian milkshake made with milk, Guinness, and peanuts.
For a festive dinner menu, try Wray's Caribbean and Seafood Cuisine. Wray’s is a seafood lover's paradise, from jerk snow crab legs to crab mac & cheese. Also great are their oxtail empanadas, jerk corn, and to-go Wray’s Rum Punch.
12. MCG Grand
Dining at MCG Grand is like eating at your grandmother or favorite uncle’s house. Start with tasty appetizers like baked avocado served with codfish, fishcakes with tamarind sauce, and breadfruit croquettes. MCG’s eclectic menu also includes deboned snapper and stewed lambie (conch) alongside traditional dishes such as crab and callaloo served with coo-coo, a coconut-flavored cornmeal. More can’t-miss items are their seasonal Caribbean juices, ranging from soursop and golden apple to passion fruit, and for an extra bite try the ginger beer.
13. Island CZ
If Ital (Caribbean vegan) is your preference, pull up to Island CZ, a long-standing Jamaican restaurant in the heart of Crown Heights on Franklin Avenue. With healthy remixes that include stewed tofu, curried soy, or callaloo served with a healthy portion of vegetables and provisions, this corner cafe also serves up Jamaican-style wraps and reggae pasta with oxtails in a creamy Alfredo sauce.
With its extensive menu, Uptown favorite Jerk Off The Grill serves up jerk salads, burgers, and tacos alongside standout classics like brown stew chicken and jerk chicken. Pair any meal with West Indian-style baked mac and cheese or crisp steamed cabbage. Go for a perfectly baked vegan patty in a turmeric-flavored crust and a Kola champagne, cream soda, or sorrel for an authentic Jamaican experience.
15. Snatch & Go
Snatch & Go is a well-loved favorite for “meals in a glass,” like their nutty seamoss-based Body Perfect shake, the Cleanse Me Up vegetable juice, or the Paradise smoothie with mango, pineapple, and strawberries. Other things to try are the Fish & Chips menu where you can sample Maracas Bay-style shark, Guyanese Banga Mary, or Caribbean red snapper. Don’t forget the homemade Snatch & Go sauce.
For a traditional Jamaican breakfast, Good Hope is a must. Their red herring breakfast is typically enough for two with a healthy portion of sides ranging from ground provisions like green banana, boiled plantains, and fried dumplings alongside fried breadfruit and bammy, a gluten-free bread made with cassava. Good Hope also has a power lineup of traditional Caribbean pastries and candies such as tamarind balls, peanut cake, coconut drops, sweet potato pudding, and black cake.
Shelley Worrell, based in Brooklyn’s Little Caribbean, founded I AM CaribBEING and writes about Caribbean food, culture, and lifestyle.