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Tim Carman of The Washington Post wrote a feature article a few weeks back about all the Caribbean restaurants up Georgia Ave. He mentioned six spots, but once you get there you can see the neighborhood has a few more than that. Back in the day, I was a fan of Rita's, especially the polorie (fritters) made from chickpea flour and served with a pickled tamarind sauce. The fritters were light and the sauce was wicked. A true five star Chowhound delight.
Rita's closed down years ago, and I wanted see how some of these places compared. And since the article didn't cover other neighborhoods, I was especially interested in seeing how the food compares to longtime favorite Pimento Grill (Jamaican) in far southeast DC plus the rather upscale Cane (Trini) on H St., NE
I tried out these places over a couple of weeks with a little help from family and friends.
Overall, Pimento Grill is a huge winner, and this only solidifies my belief that this place is worth a pilgrimage. The oxtail brown stew, chicken curry, and escoveiched kingfish are all spectacular, with rich complex sauces or marinade. And the sides of cabbage and rice with peas are so fresh tasting.
But plenty of good eats to be had at other places:
Sunrise Caribbean restaurant: I ordered dalpouri (flatbread stuffed with yellow dal) and from the steam table I chose some vegetable side dishes. You can have these made into a wrap or do it yourself at home. The calaloo is a tasty combo of greens, okra, and pumpkin. Cabbage is helped out by some other vegetables like carrots and peppers. Lentils have a faint sweet touch that doesn't help. The combo of the bread, cabbage, and calaloo is a winner.
Crown Bakery has a lot of specials on weekends. my favorite item here was a beef patty, and the first homemade one I've ever had that wasn't dried up. The flavor and heat from the scotch bonnet peppers really shone through. They also make a salmon croissant that is very nice, stuffed with salmon cake. There is a corn soup, more like a stew, which hits the spot. Unfortunately, the doubles here are too boring and don't compare with the excellent ones at Cane on H St. And the shark and bake is too sweet to be delectable. Desserts here are more interesting than good.
Teddy's Roti Shop is the longtime stalwart, but I don't know why the goat curry here is famous. Actually, the size is enormous, so that could account for it. But this can't compare to the curry at Pimento Grill. Teddy's pumpkin though, is delightful. His polorie is too leaden to compare favorably with Rita 's, and the tamarind sauce tasted like a commercial afterthought. Still, it's hard to go wrong with fritters.
I also have to mention that Just Jerk in Lanham, MD is still the king of jerk chicken and worth a pilgrimage. Get the dark meat, and order it spicy only if you dare. In fact, even for this hot head the spicy is too painful. So I get the regular to eat straight and I chop up the spicy and use it as an ingredient in other things.
Next step, I think, is to try out two places in Silver Spring: the Haitian Port au Prince Restaurant and the Guyanese place, Island Zests. Some very interesting stews on the menu of the latter.
4405 Bowen Rd SE
403 H St NE
5329 Georgia Ave NW
5409 Georgia Ave NW
7304 Georgia Ave NW
9005 Lanham Severn Rd
7912 Georgia Ave
Silver Spring, MD
11252 Georgia Ave
Silver Spring, MD
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