From food to culture and everything in between, descendants from those who have immigrated from Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, Guyana, and more have become part of the fabric that holds New York City together.
Approximately 60 percent of all Caribbean immigrants in the United States live between NYC and Miami, and the culture they bring to the city is one of the pillars of what makes New York, New York.
For decades, you could count on getting your fix of a wide range of Caribbean dishes from authentic mom & pop spots in Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx, but now there is a wide range of modern Caribbean restaurants in Manhattan, giving some fine dining spots a run for their money!
These new restaurants bring culinary creativity to their dishes in a way that only a genius could think of.
There’s nothing like an authentic roti in Queens that tastes like it came straight from Trinidad or jerk chicken in Brooklyn that’ll have you reminiscing about being in Jamaica. But when chefs are creating one-of-a-kind dishes like a flatbread pizza topped with ackee and shrimp, a shrimp doubles taco, or a coconut-crusted soursop glazed salmon; it’s time to give kudos where they’re due!
June is Caribbean American Heritage Month, and there’s no better time to indulge in the flavors of the islands.
Here’s a list of some of the best Modern Caribbean restaurants the city has to offer:
1. Omar’s Kitchen & Rum Bar, Lower East Side
Omar’s Kitchen is a “nouveau Caribbean restaurant” in the Lower East Side inspired by Chef Omar’s Jamaican roots and Caribbean travels. Omar’s passion for Jamaica’s native fruits and vegetables is reflected throughout the exquisite menu, including entrees like Hibiscus Glazed Lamb, the aforementioned Coconut Crusted Soursop Glazed Salmon, and Coconut Curry Oxtail.
The drink menu is also a love letter to Jamacia’s native goodies with cocktails like the Fire Island (scotch bonnet, cucumber-infused margarita) and the Shotta Love Story (mix of cognac, soursop, and passion fruit puree). Learn more here.
Where: 29A Clinton St
2. Kokomo Caribbean Restaurant, Williamsburg
Kokomo has become a Williamsburg staple between its unique flatbread offerings and jam-packed block parties. Kokomo prides itself on being a multisensory dining experience offering some of the most sophisticated spins on Caribbean cuisine. The entire menu is the perfect product of love and a mixing of cultures from the owner & wife’s Jamaican and Trinidadian roots.
The Wah Gwan Flatbread with sautéed ackee, grilled shrimp, and savory tomato confit drizzled with scotch bonnet cilantro sauce is entirely in a league of its own. Other standouts include the Curry Rock Shrimp Tempura (jumbo shrimp marinated in Caribbean spices, served with jerk garlic aioli), the vegan-friendly Lentil Meatballs in Coconut Curry Sauce (caviar lentils rolled with quinoa in a Trinidadian ginger coconut curry sauce), and Passion Fruit Mango Sorbet.
Where: 65 Kent Ave, Brooklyn
3. Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine, Hell’s Kitchen
Jasmine’s should be your first stop if you’re in Hell’s Kitchen and want to escape to the Caribbean. The ambiance of this restaurant mimics the vibe of pulling up to a restaurant in the Caribbean from its decor, music, and smell of the food. Jasmine’s specializes in delectable cuisine inspired by Dominica, Antigua, St. Thomas, Trinidad, and Jamaica. The menu hosts staples like codfish fritters, empanadas, jerk, and curry, but the standouts stand OUT. The seasonal Escovitch Fish is presented on a HUGE red snapper, but the show’s star is the Jazzy Pasta. You can add any protein you want to the pasta, but there’s a level of authenticity to the dish that only the originator of rasta pasta himself could emulate. Pro tip: order the Carrot Cake!
Where: 371 W 46th St, New York ,New York
4. Miss Lily’s, Lower East Side
Miss Lily’s might be one of the first Caribbean restaurants to go “mainstream,” aka one of the first to have a brick-and-mortar in Manhattan. After relocating, you can find this iconic eatery in the Lower East Side serving up an extensive Rum Bar offering over 100 varieties of Caribbean rum and a full selection of wine, beer, cocktails, and a Frozen Piña Colada slushy machine. Their staples like Jerk Corn, Ackee Hummus, and Hot Pepper Shrimp have had people visiting from all over the world since 2014.
Where: 109 Avenue A New York, New York
5. Negril Village, SoHo
Negril caused quite a commotion when they brought the upscale Jamaican vibes to SOHO. They offer all of the island’s classics like oxtail, jerk chicken, curry shrimp, ackee and saltfish, and curry goat – but all on a sophisticated elevated level.
Where: 70 W 3rd St, New York, New York
6. Bamboo Walk, Brooklyn
This restaurant is in a league of its own. Bamboo Walk is a multifaceted spot boasting fine dining, cabanas, a robust take-out menu, and the first ever drive-thru Caribbean restaurant in all of northeastern America. The cuisine is a beautiful marriage of Jamaican and Haitian cuisine representing the roots of owner Paula Mercure and her husband respectively. On the menu, you can find Jamaican classics like Braised Oxtail and Curry Chicken and Hiaitan staples like Griot and Goat Tassot.
Where: 1343 Utica Ave Brooklyn NY
7. Footprints Cafe, Brooklyn
Celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year is Footprints Cafe. Footprints shook the game up when they opened their first location on Clarendon Road in Brooklyn and introduced us all to Rasta Pasta. The dish has been so renowned that just about any Caribbean restaurant you walk into will have its own rendition of it. Aside from the pasta, Footprints has a deep menu that includes an extensive appetizer, entre, salads, and drink selection. The ever-popular Footprints has come a long way and now has locations in Coney Island, Bed Stuy, Flatbush, and Long Island City!
Where: 5814 Clarendon Rd. Brooklyn, NY
8. Zanmi NYC, Brooklyn & Soho
Located in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, Zanmi brings traditional Haitian cuisine and modern embellishments to Nostrand Ave. Zanmi offers a gallery of traditional Haitian meals and some modern twists and is the only place where you can get Soup Joumou all year round! In addition to cultural classics, they’re also serving Kreyol Shrimp Scampi (shrimp sautéed in a signature sauce), Cana Creole (a roasted half duck marinated for two days in a savory creole sauce), numerous sandwiches, and Kremas.
Where: 1206 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn, NY
9. Imani Caribbean Kitchen & Bar, Brooklyn
In the heart of Fort Greene Brooklyn, you can find Imani’s serving up their take on classic Jamaican cuisine. On their menu, you can find the Imani Cajun Fried Fish & Bammy (cajun flash fried sole fish, pickled cherry peppers, and cassava bammy served with tartar sauce & escabeche sauce) and their Jerk Chicken Ceasar Salad (iceberg lettuce, corn, red onions, tomatoes, pineapple, jalapenos, jerk chicken breast, caesar dressing and parmesan cheese). Imani’s is known to have one of the best brunches in Brooklyn so be sure to add them to your itinerary this weekend!
Where: 271 Adelphi St, Brooklyn, NY
10. Cream Ridgewood
If you’re looking for a restaurant that offers a truly memorable dining experience, Cream is the place for you. This restaurant offers menus inspired by Chef Diablo and Chef Diego’s diverse cultural backgrounds, with dishes crafted to highlight tropical ingredients and served straight from the kitchen. Come experience an exciting culinary adventure that showcases authentic and handcrafted dishes bursting with vibrant flavors. Menu highlights include Birria Empanadas and Seafood Fried Rice.
Where: 59-09 71st Ave, Queens, NY