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The D.C. area’s Caribbean restaurants don’t come with big name chefs making the cuisines trendy or famous, which means sometimes it takes a little effort to find them and learn what to order. The following eateries showcase food from Trinidad, Jamaica, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Each island’s meal offerings are different, but it’s common to find plantains, rice and beans, spiced fish, and stewed and barbecued meats. Here’s where to go and what to get.
5409 Georgia Ave. NW
This Trinidadian restaurant has a small bakery and carry-out shop downstairs and a recently refurbished dining room upstairs where they offer an all-you-can-eat buffet on Sundays for $25. Dishes (mostly hits) include red snapper with slivers of green pepper, jerk chicken, sweet stewed chicken, pureed callaloo, a codfish appetizer, currant rolls, sweet bread, brown rice and pigeon peas, plantains, mac and cheese, and rum punch. Top it all with fruity sauces in flavors like mango and tamarind. Get ready for an open-air rooftop lounge this spring.
Teddy’s Roti Shop
7304 Georgia Ave. NW
This longtime, small Trinidadian carry-out is worth the jaunt up Georgia Avenue for its tasty roti, a flatbread wrap that can be ordered in the dhalpouri or “buss-up-shut” style. The dhalpouri resembles a burrito while the buss-up-shut version features torn roti. Try the goat that comes with mashed chana (chickpeas) and potatoes in either style ($13.90 for dhalpouri, $16.95 for buss up shut).
6214 3rd St. NW
The spicy jerk chicken entree ($12.49 with two sides) is the star item at this homey Jamaican locale started in 2007 by Jamaican immigrant Peaches Watson in Takoma. Also try the soft coco bread with garlic ($2.29) and the beef patties ($2.29). The oxtail ($17.49) and the brown rice with pigeon peas ($4.49) are serviceable, but the plantains ($4.49) here are a little too dry.
1426-1428 Park Road NW
Dominican food is served cafeteria style at Los Hermanos. Think big portions scooped from trays behind a glass sneeze guard requiring diners to point at what they want. Try the mangu (mashed green plantains) and ask them to add sauteed red onions ($4 to $8). There’s nothing fancy about moro de habichuelas, Dominican red beans and yellow rice, but the dish makes good comfort food. Finally, try the pernil (pulled pork, $10) and wash it down with a sweet, thick passion fruit juice drink.
Mi Cuba Café
1424 Park Road NW
The Havana-born owners of this intimate bistro do a good job of presenting their isle’s flavors. Start with guava- and cheese-filled empanadas ($2.50) before moving on to their touted lechon asado ($9.95). It could have been warmer, but this roasted pig dish was still impressive thanks to its juicy meat, crunchy skin, and zingy grilled onions. The ropa vieja ($10.25) was less impressive, but the Cubano sandwich ($7.95) does the trick as a carry-out or eat-in item.