11 Caribbean Restaurants to Try in NYC

Looking for a Caribbean restaurant in New York? Since the city is home to so many former residents of the region, you'll find a huge variety highlighting the flavors of Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, and other islands of the West Indies. Check out the assortment we've found below including paella, plantains, and empanadas—and don't forget your sunscreen!

Havana Central 

pernil havana central

Times Square’s Havana Central offers up a terrific assortment of Cuban favorites, but you’ll often find a live band adding extra spice to the atmosphere. Order vaca frita or paella at this bilevel throwback cafe, and don’t overlook the appetizer sampler if you’re here in a group. It's also ideal after work or to break up a day of sightseeing. Enjoy $7 mojitos and dollar empanadas during happy hour. 151 W. 46th St., 212-398-7440,

Jasmine's Caribbean Cuisine

jasmine caribbean restaurant row

A dependable staple of Restaurant Row on 46th Street, Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine offers an offramp from city bustle with savory dishes and fruit-filled cocktails. Everything is Caribbean inspired, with flavors imported from Dominica, Antigua, St. Thomas, Trinidad, and Jamaica. And these recipes have been handed down through generations within multiple families. 371 W. 46th St., 646-964-5337,

Victor’s Cafe

Victor Cafe

Ideal for drinks and snacks before or after a Broadway show, Victor’s Cafe is a next-level approach to classic Cuban cuisine. You'll start with a La Jefa cocktail (vodka, elderflower, and blackberry) or Passion Mojito. Bright and tasty entrees include the Ponle Ropa a La Vaca, which is the delectable ropa vieja augmented by crispy fried plantains. Prefer something on the lighter side? Try the Ceviche de Pargo with snapper, mango and avocado. 236 W. 52nd St., 212-586-7714,


Tucked away just a stone's throw from Rockefeller Center, Margon brings an authentic and delicious taste of Cuba to its modest spot on West 46th. Sure, your Cuban sandwich with ham and garlic sauce will appear on a red tray with a bag plastic silverware, but embrace the true meaning of “hole in the wall.” From their oxtail braised in red wine to the octopus salad, accept that magnificent gifts are often the most unassuming. 136 W. 46th St., 212-354-5013

Miss Lily’s

Miss Lily's

Miss Lily's..and you'll miss a lot. With a hopping location in the East Village, Miss Lily’s dominates New York's downtown Caribbean cuisine scene. Expect classic Jamaican fare: jerk chicken with mango chutney, cucumber escovitch, and plantains on the side. It's a fun, bright atmosphere with thrumming music and a stylish clientele, Miss Lily’s is a smart choice for starting a memorable night out. 109 Ave. A, 212-812-1482,

Cuba Restaurant and Rum Bar

Tangy Cuban flavors and strong mojitos are the specialties at Cuba in Greenwich Village. The Churrasco is a viable candidate for the best skirt steak of your life (it's served with garlic mashed potatoes and a side of chimichurri), although the vaca frita with rice runs a close second as a flavor bomb. Other favorites include the empanadas habaneras and paella marinara. Bonus: if you’re around on Friday and Saturday nights, you’ll get to enjoy live music! 222 Thompson St., 212-420-7878,

Veronica’s Kitchen

Veronica's Kitchen

Need lunch that fills you up without emptying your wallet? Drop into Veronica’s Kitchen, a popular food cart camped out on Water Street in the Financial District. You’ll get your pick of sinful yams, rice, curry goat roti, and all the jerk you can handle with their Trinidadian treats. Call for their current locations. 917-848-2465

The Islands

Another palette-pleasing and affordable choice, the Islands is one of the best in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn — an area already rife with Caribbean cuisine. It’s a small spot that feels like a homey Jamaican kitchen in the best way possible. Here's where you head straight for tail; the tender oxtail with mac ‘n' cheese is a must. Still not convinced? Try the goat curry. 671 Washington Ave., 718-398-3575

The Food Sermon

The Food Sermon

Normally, no one likes to be preached at, but at Food Sermon, you'll want to make an exception. Here, chef Rawlston Williams delivers flavor as if it were his mission. The build-a-bowl menu is fairly straightforward and more typical of a Midtown lunch spot than Crown Heights, Brooklyn. But when you tuck into the flavorful chicken or lamb shank, fresh kale, and coconut ginger sauce, you’ll feel at home no matter what. 355 Rogers Ave., 718-484-7555,

Lolo’s Seafood Shack

Lolo's Seafood Shack

You'll find Lolo’s Seafood Shack nestled at the heart of Harlem’s Restaurant Row. Lolo’s takes the “shack” in its name seriously when it comes to decor, and the casual food adds to the sensation of visiting a top-notch beachside cafe. Job #1 is to order the garlic fries, no matter what else you choose. Fortunately, they already come in a basket of crispy, super-spicy Pom Pom Shrimp. The soft shell crab sandwich is another winner, and is served on housemade bread. Must-get sides include the plantains and corn on the cob; both come with cotija cheese. 303 W. 116 St., 646-649-3356,

Freda’s Caribbean & Soul Cuisine

Freda’s is another eatery where the food takes precedence over decor (and it’s BYOB!). Try nearly anything, and you’re likely to fall in love. Consider the greens: perfectly textured collard greens, and callaloo, an okra and spinach sauce made with coconut and garlic that you’ll find in many a Caribbean dish. Whether you select the classic jerk or goat curry as your entree, you’re in for an uber-tasty affordable meal on the Upper West Side. 993 Columbus Ave., 646-438-9832,

About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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