BY STEPHANIE SENGWE
You’d be forgiven for thinking that finding authentic Caribbean food (you know, the kind that is well-seasoned, flavorful and makes you dream about a tropical getaway) can be a bit of a task in LA, but the truth is that there are plenty of excellent restaurants dishing up Jamaican, Belizean, Cuban, Trinidadian and other Caribbean cuisine around the city—you just have to know where to look. That’s why we did the legwork and compiled our pick of the best Caribbean restaurants in Los Angeles, from pop-ups to diners to celeb-favorites, whether you’re searching for traditional dishes, inventive twists on the classics or just a refreshing glass of Ting.
1. A Taste of the Caribbean
With mouthwatering jerk salmon, jerk chicken and goat roti on the menu, this restaurant is an easy favorite among locals who are looking for an authentic Caribbean experience. Helmed by celebrity chef Bernard James who is originally from Guyana, A Taste of the Caribbean originally started as a food truck in 2014 but now has a brick-and-mortar location in Hollywood. Planning a special event? Get it catered—trust us, your guests will thank you.
5920 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038
2. Trini Style Cuisine
Serving traditional Trinidadian staples such as roti, bake and shark, and pholourie (fried, spiced spilt pea and flour dough balls served with chutney), Trini Style Cuisine offers true Indo-Caribbean that can sometimes be hard to find in the city. Never had bake and shark before? This delicious, traditional Trinidadian fast food dish consists of fried flatbread and crispy shark meat, here dished up with avocado, tamarind sauce and mango chutney. It’s packed with flavor and is a must-try menu itme. Located in a strip mall in Inglewood, enjoy tucking into Trini Style’s spice-laden dishes on the outdoor patio or take ‘em to go.
159 West Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90047
3. Stevie’s Creole Cafe
Serving Creole food, the late L.A. Times food critic Jonathan Gold proclaimed Stevie’s Creole Café had “the best gumbo on this side of New Orleans.” So you’re definitely going to want to order one of those (in addition to the seafood gumbo, they also have a veggie version), but don’t sleep on the tacos, po’boys or soul food picks like short ribs and oxtails. Just make sure you save room for dessert—their peach cobbler (and their peach cobbler ice cream) reigns supreme among customers.
5545 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
4. A Beautiful Life
Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles in Little Tokyo, A Beautiful Life infuses Jamaican cuisine with Asian and Indian influences. The result? Mouth-watering dishes such as their rasta pasta—lobster stuffed ravioli with homemade marinara topped with jerk chicken—or their jerk chicken and curry combo which comes with rice and peas, sauteed cabbage and fried plantains. The vibe here is just as tantalizing, with loud music playing on the patio, music videos playing on screens inside and a hooka lounge in the back.
243 San Pedro St. Los Angeles, CA 90012
5. El Criollo Cuban Bar & Grill
If you’re looking for delicious cocktails, flavorful Cuban cuisine at reasonable prices and a restaurant full of ambiance in the Valley, then this family-run operation is the place to go. Menu favorites include empanadas, oxtails, ropa vieja, sandwich Cubano and more, all washed down with a fresh mojito and finished off with a cafe con leche, of course.
916 W Burbank Blvd. Burbank, CA 91506
6. Wah Gwaan Jamaican Kitchen & Bar
Located on Crenshaw Boulevard, this restaurant has customers the likes of Tiffany Haddish coming in to sample their delicious cuisine, so you know it’s going to be something special. This is the spot to check out for all the Jamaican classics (oxtail, rice and peas, fried plantain etc.) made with family recipes that have been passed down for generations.
4371 Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90008
7. Cha Cha Chicken
Jerk chicken lovers, this one’s for you. Cha Cha Chicken’s famous jerk sauce “strays from the traditional, incorporating more exotic ingredients such as fresh mango, pineapple and habanero pepper.” That means in addition to the heat and spice you get from traditional jerk sauce, you also get to scintillate your taste buds with sweet fruit flavors. Sample this tasty dish on the colorful patio with your choice of beverage—incredibly, Cha Cha’s is BYOB.
1906 Ocean Ave. Santa Monica, Ca. 90405
8. A Taste of Belize
If you’re looking for a cozy and quiet spot to enjoy a decadent meal, this quaint restaurant in the heart of Inglewood is the place to go. Renowned for their yummy plantain, A Taste of Belize offers more than just savory Caribbean cuisine. Their restaurant also doubles as an event space where they host Friday night karaoke as well as mimosa reggae brunches every Sunday, perfect for the days you want to go out without doing too much.
217 E Nutwood St, Inglewood CA 90301
9. Bridgetown Roti
The fact that this business doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar establishment of their own has not hindered their popularity—or their stellar customer service. This pop-up restaurant operates from Friday to Sunday, and it’s recommended you order your food as early in the day as possible given the high demand. Not into the weekend rush? Good news: Bridgetown Roti will be bringing their renowned patties—and the rest of their menu items—to a brick-and-mortar location soon.672 South Santa Fe Avenue, CA 90021
672 South Santa Fe Avenue, CA 90021
10. The Blue Hole Restaurant Belizean Caribbean Cuisine
Another Belizean restaurant, this family-run business in Gardena pays homage to its homeland in name (it’s named after the giant marine sinkhole off the coast) and in cuisine. With fresh ingredients and food made from scratch, you’ll want to start with the chicken tostadas, then move on to the spice chicken in brown gravy, or possibly the stew beef and oxtail, but also definitely order the salted white fish. Your best bet? Head here with friends and share everything.
14008 Crenshaw Blvd Gardena, CA 90249
11. Ackee Bamboo
Whether you want some hearty ackee and salt fish for breakfast or some brown stew chicken for dinner, the Jamaican Ackee Bamboo has got you covered. And that includes beverages as well, as you’ll find tangy and refreshing Ting, Calypso and Kola Champagne on the menu.
4305 Degnan Blvd. Suite 100 Los Angeles, CA 90008
12. Caribbean Gourmet
Owned by Guyanese chef Yonette Alleyne, Caribbean Gourmet found a home in at San Gabriel’s Blossom Market Hall after having been a popular pop-up for some time. Aside from their decadent entrées (like oxtail stew and curried vegetables served with rice, peas and channa), the restaurant also offers an array of drool-worthy pastries like cheddar cheese scones, currant rolls, pineapple tarts and more.
264 S Mission Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776
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