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Rotisserie chicken with white rice, tostones, chopped pieces of chicharron Dominicano, and a white morir soñando drink are photographed overhead on a white tabletop.
Rotisserie chicken, morcilla, and other dishes at 188 Bakery Cuchifritos.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Where to Find Superior Caribbean Food Around New York

Eighteen places for standout jerk chicken, vaca frita, golden chicharrones, and lots of saltfish

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Rotisserie chicken, morcilla, and other dishes at 188 Bakery Cuchifritos.
| Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Caribbean food is a broad term that encompasses dishes from more than two dozen countries that make up the region. Many of the cuisines reflect scores of indigenous and international culinary influences, including those from Spain, West Africa, South Asia, Great Britain, and China.

In New York City and New Jersey, Caribbean restaurants are an immovable part of the makeup of the region. Diners can find both traditional and inventive dishes at casual takeout spots and sit-down restaurants. Here are 18 notable Caribbean restaurants — or venues with notable Caribbean-leaning dishes — including selections from Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Belize, Trinidad, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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188 Bakery Cuchifritos

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Jose Coto’s nearly 40-year-old Fordham Heights lunch counter remains one of the city’s most vital temples to pork. Watch in awe as counter workers cleave through a golden chicharron Dominicano — a crunchy and gelatinous pork candy bar of sorts — then feast on anything that looks good, including garlicky pernil, starchy alcapurrias (empanadas made from yucca), filling mofongo platters, and aromatic cups of morir soñando forged from freshly squeezed orange juice and condensed milk. Do not by any means overlook the morcilla, a bouncy and light blood sausage with a fragrant cilantro kick.

Nuggets of chicharron Dominicano sit next to yucca on a white plate with pickles
Chicharron Dominicano.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Malecon

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Malecon is perhaps the city’s most well-known mini-chain of all-day Dominican establishments. The Washington Heights location opens for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. serving mangu (mashed green plantains) with longaniza, eggs and salami, and stays open until 2 a.m. on weekends, offering an almost infinite variety of Dominican specialities. The signature item here, however, is the rotisserie chicken; it’s slowly spit roasted to allow for tender flesh and stretchy, supple skin.

La Isla Cuchifrito

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La Isla in Mott Haven, like Bakery 188 in Fordham Heights, ranks among the city’s top cuchifrito parlors, a dwindling class of affordable lunch counters purveying top notch pork products. Everything here is grand, including the morcilla, but pernil might be the king of this location. The swine is slow roasted until its exterior caramelizes and glistens like rare gemstones.

Sister’s

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At Sister’s in East Harlem, locals know to grab seats before the curry chicken and jerk dishes sell out — because they often do. A slice of lemon pound cake or carrot cake are perfect meal enders. Those who come for breakfast will encounter Guyanese provisions, the traditional dish of steamed cassava, eddo, plantains, and yam (also available with codfish).

Lolo's Seafood Shack

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Chef Raymond Mohan and Leticia Young are the duo behind this popular Harlem seafood shack, which was inspired by their time in the Caribbean and Cape Cod. The stars of the menu are seafood boils featuring crawfish, crab legs, or shrimp swimming in richly flavored broth that can be customized with Lolo’s signature sauces. Appetizers here are not to be missed — the rich and creamy “crabby dip” with plantain chips and the light Belizean conch fritters with tangy remoulade sauce are a great addition to your seafood spread.

Crab sits in a puffed up plastic bag next to a ginger beer.
Crab boil at LoLo’s.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Freda's

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Freda’s Caribbean and Soul Cuisine on the Upper West Side feels like being invited into a West Indian and Southern family’s home for dinner. The menu is a greatest hits of soul and Caribbean food and includes Jamaican brown stew chicken, fried whiting, curry chicken, macaroni and cheese, and peas and rice. It’s all affordable, too, with the generous portion costings under $20. Bonus: BYOB

Las Palmas

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This Cuban restaurant in West New York, NJ is a tale of two dining experiences: The first floor is cafeteria-like with brisk service, while the second floor is dark and bustling and doubles as a private event space. On Saturday nights, the second floor has live salsa and diners dance near their tables or on the dance floor between the bar and the dining room. The smoky, salty churrasco, a marinated, grilled skirt steak served with onions and plantains, is one of the best in the area.

Guantanamera

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Here you’ll find some of the city’s best Cuban sandwiches, vaca frita (skirt steak fried to the texture of soft jerky), lechon asado (slow cooked pork) and minty mojitos. Warning: The mojitos are strong, which is especially dangerous on Tuesdays when they’re just $6 apiece. Swing by after a show for live Cuban music every night. Open late on weekends.

An all-male band plans in front of a mural displaying the word Guantanamera.
A band playing at Guantanamera.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Melting Pot Cuisine

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All of the basics are covered at this Long Island City institution serving classic Jamaican dishes. The dining room is sparse and often filled with locals digging into plates of moist jerk chicken, and tender, stewed oxtails. Be sure to try the ackee and saltfish — the national dish of Jamaica — at breakfast and curried goat at lunch. 

The Freakin Rican

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Chef Derick Lopez runs this Astoria-based ode to the foodways of Puerto Rico. Expect all the usual suspects: alcapurrias, sorullitos, pernil sandwiches and hearty mofongo platters. But the pasteles, which are available for nationwide shipping, play a big role in making this such a special place. For that preparation, Lopez mashes together steamed taro, pumpkin, and plantains — a blend of mildly-flavored roots that let the pork and olives stuffing shine.

Pork pasteles at the Freakin Rican sit on a banana leaf on a white plate
Pork pasteles at the Freakin Rican.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Miss Lily's 7A Cafe

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Lots of restaurants promise to mentally transport diners to another place via their menu and atmosphere but few are as successful as Miss Lily’s and Miss Lily’s 7A Cafe, a Jamaican rum shack with stellar, vibrant food compliments of chef Kahari Woolcock. Menu standouts include glazed pork ribs, scotch bonnet shrimp, and oxtail with broad beans.

Caracas Arepa Bar

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Venezuela, like neighboring Colombia, boasts a long coastline along the Caribbean — and accordingly shares a number of culinary traditions with the region’s islands and archipelagos. And while Caracas Arepa Bar isn’t necessarily a Caribbean restaurant, it is a fine establishment that sells, like so many other Venezuelan spots, one of the South American country’s signature dishes, the pabellon criollo, a style of beans and rice found throughout the maritime basin. Caracas serves it as a bowl — mixing the rice and beans with the dish’s other staple ingredients: fried sweet plantains, shredded beef, and cotija cheese — or in an arepa, without rice.

Imani Caribbean Kitchen & Bar

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Imani has dishes ranging from spicy spare ribs with pineapple to an ackee and saltfish spring roll, but the restaurant most notably has options for vegans looking to satisfy a craving for Caribbean (or non-Caribbean) comfort food. The cozy brownstone restaurant in Fort Greene serves curried vegetables with chickpeas and okra, as well as a Beyond Meat burger.

Pilar Cuban Bakery

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This is your go-to Bed-Stuy spot for Cuban bakery staples. Expect Cuban buttered toast, baked chicken or picadillo empanadas, tamales, cafe con leche, and of course, flaky pastelitos with guava and cheese.

Empanadas, guava-stuffed pastelitos, and other dishes sit on decorative plates on a wood table.
Empanadas, guava-stuffed pastelitos, and other dishes at Pilar.
Carla Vianna/Eater NY

Puerto Viejo

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Slick and modern, Puerto Viejo in Crown Heights is a Dominican bistro that has been a part of this neighborhood for more than 30 years. The menu has the expected Dominican dishes like hearty sancocho with pieces of chicken and pork, but it also holds surprises like the encebollado steak sauteed with wine and onions. The homemade hot sauce, available to order online, is a must and adds fruity heat to the simple and satisfying dishes.

The Door

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Christopher Roberts and Joan Lewis opened this Caribbean restaurant in Queens in 2000 and quickly found fans of their homey dishes like Jamaican curry-laced goat and steamed snapper with okra. The specials are often the best option; some nights include stew peas with pig feet and goat stew.

Negril BK

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Seafood shines at Park Slope’s Negril BK, as so does the atmosphere; the restaurant has three themed rooms that each give off a different island vibe. The crispy stuffed snapper served with pumpkin rice is a standout, though classics like braised oxtail and curry goat are also on deck. For dessert, try the rich bread pudding. Cocktails mostly fall under $15, and include options inspired by flavors of the islands, such as with a soursop rum punch.

Suede’s two-floor, nightclub-like interior makes it primed for large gatherings to get the party started. Caribbean classics like jerk chicken don’t disappoint, but there’s also twists like Creole pasta with oxtail. Pair it with one of Suede’s multitude of crafted rum flavors. 

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188 Bakery Cuchifritos

Nuggets of chicharron Dominicano sit next to yucca on a white plate with pickles
Chicharron Dominicano.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Jose Coto’s nearly 40-year-old Fordham Heights lunch counter remains one of the city’s most vital temples to pork. Watch in awe as counter workers cleave through a golden chicharron Dominicano — a crunchy and gelatinous pork candy bar of sorts — then feast on anything that looks good, including garlicky pernil, starchy alcapurrias (empanadas made from yucca), filling mofongo platters, and aromatic cups of morir soñando forged from freshly squeezed orange juice and condensed milk. Do not by any means overlook the morcilla, a bouncy and light blood sausage with a fragrant cilantro kick.

Nuggets of chicharron Dominicano sit next to yucca on a white plate with pickles
Chicharron Dominicano.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Malecon

Malecon is perhaps the city’s most well-known mini-chain of all-day Dominican establishments. The Washington Heights location opens for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. serving mangu (mashed green plantains) with longaniza, eggs and salami, and stays open until 2 a.m. on weekends, offering an almost infinite variety of Dominican specialities. The signature item here, however, is the rotisserie chicken; it’s slowly spit roasted to allow for tender flesh and stretchy, supple skin.

La Isla Cuchifrito

La Isla in Mott Haven, like Bakery 188 in Fordham Heights, ranks among the city’s top cuchifrito parlors, a dwindling class of affordable lunch counters purveying top notch pork products. Everything here is grand, including the morcilla, but pernil might be the king of this location. The swine is slow roasted until its exterior caramelizes and glistens like rare gemstones.

Sister’s

At Sister’s in East Harlem, locals know to grab seats before the curry chicken and jerk dishes sell out — because they often do. A slice of lemon pound cake or carrot cake are perfect meal enders. Those who come for breakfast will encounter Guyanese provisions, the traditional dish of steamed cassava, eddo, plantains, and yam (also available with codfish).

Lolo's Seafood Shack

Crab sits in a puffed up plastic bag next to a ginger beer.
Crab boil at LoLo’s.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Chef Raymond Mohan and Leticia Young are the duo behind this popular Harlem seafood shack, which was inspired by their time in the Caribbean and Cape Cod. The stars of the menu are seafood boils featuring crawfish, crab legs, or shrimp swimming in richly flavored broth that can be customized with Lolo’s signature sauces. Appetizers here are not to be missed — the rich and creamy “crabby dip” with plantain chips and the light Belizean conch fritters with tangy remoulade sauce are a great addition to your seafood spread.

Crab sits in a puffed up plastic bag next to a ginger beer.
Crab boil at LoLo’s.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Freda's

Freda’s Caribbean and Soul Cuisine on the Upper West Side feels like being invited into a West Indian and Southern family’s home for dinner. The menu is a greatest hits of soul and Caribbean food and includes Jamaican brown stew chicken, fried whiting, curry chicken, macaroni and cheese, and peas and rice. It’s all affordable, too, with the generous portion costings under $20. Bonus: BYOB

Las Palmas

This Cuban restaurant in West New York, NJ is a tale of two dining experiences: The first floor is cafeteria-like with brisk service, while the second floor is dark and bustling and doubles as a private event space. On Saturday nights, the second floor has live salsa and diners dance near their tables or on the dance floor between the bar and the dining room. The smoky, salty churrasco, a marinated, grilled skirt steak served with onions and plantains, is one of the best in the area.

Guantanamera

An all-male band plans in front of a mural displaying the word Guantanamera.
A band playing at Guantanamera.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Here you’ll find some of the city’s best Cuban sandwiches, vaca frita (skirt steak fried to the texture of soft jerky), lechon asado (slow cooked pork) and minty mojitos. Warning: The mojitos are strong, which is especially dangerous on Tuesdays when they’re just $6 apiece. Swing by after a show for live Cuban music every night. Open late on weekends.

An all-male band plans in front of a mural displaying the word Guantanamera.
A band playing at Guantanamera.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Melting Pot Cuisine

All of the basics are covered at this Long Island City institution serving classic Jamaican dishes. The dining room is sparse and often filled with locals digging into plates of moist jerk chicken, and tender, stewed oxtails. Be sure to try the ackee and saltfish — the national dish of Jamaica — at breakfast and curried goat at lunch. 

The Freakin Rican

Pork pasteles at the Freakin Rican sit on a banana leaf on a white plate
Pork pasteles at the Freakin Rican.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Chef Derick Lopez runs this Astoria-based ode to the foodways of Puerto Rico. Expect all the usual suspects: alcapurrias, sorullitos, pernil sandwiches and hearty mofongo platters. But the pasteles, which are available for nationwide shipping, play a big role in making this such a special place. For that preparation, Lopez mashes together steamed taro, pumpkin, and plantains — a blend of mildly-flavored roots that let the pork and olives stuffing shine.

Pork pasteles at the Freakin Rican sit on a banana leaf on a white plate
Pork pasteles at the Freakin Rican.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Miss Lily's 7A Cafe

Lots of restaurants promise to mentally transport diners to another place via their menu and atmosphere but few are as successful as Miss Lily’s and Miss Lily’s 7A Cafe, a Jamaican rum shack with stellar, vibrant food compliments of chef Kahari Woolcock. Menu standouts include glazed pork ribs, scotch bonnet shrimp, and oxtail with broad beans.

Caracas Arepa Bar

Venezuela, like neighboring Colombia, boasts a long coastline along the Caribbean — and accordingly shares a number of culinary traditions with the region’s islands and archipelagos. And while Caracas Arepa Bar isn’t necessarily a Caribbean restaurant, it is a fine establishment that sells, like so many other Venezuelan spots, one of the South American country’s signature dishes, the pabellon criollo, a style of beans and rice found throughout the maritime basin. Caracas serves it as a bowl — mixing the rice and beans with the dish’s other staple ingredients: fried sweet plantains, shredded beef, and cotija cheese — or in an arepa, without rice.

Imani Caribbean Kitchen & Bar

Imani has dishes ranging from spicy spare ribs with pineapple to an ackee and saltfish spring roll, but the restaurant most notably has options for vegans looking to satisfy a craving for Caribbean (or non-Caribbean) comfort food. The cozy brownstone restaurant in Fort Greene serves curried vegetables with chickpeas and okra, as well as a Beyond Meat burger.

Pilar Cuban Bakery

Empanadas, guava-stuffed pastelitos, and other dishes sit on decorative plates on a wood table.
Empanadas, guava-stuffed pastelitos, and other dishes at Pilar.
Carla Vianna/Eater NY

This is your go-to Bed-Stuy spot for Cuban bakery staples. Expect Cuban buttered toast, baked chicken or picadillo empanadas, tamales, cafe con leche, and of course, flaky pastelitos with guava and cheese.

Empanadas, guava-stuffed pastelitos, and other dishes sit on decorative plates on a wood table.
Empanadas, guava-stuffed pastelitos, and other dishes at Pilar.
Carla Vianna/Eater NY

Puerto Viejo

Slick and modern, Puerto Viejo in Crown Heights is a Dominican bistro that has been a part of this neighborhood for more than 30 years. The menu has the expected Dominican dishes like hearty sancocho with pieces of chicken and pork, but it also holds surprises like the encebollado steak sauteed with wine and onions. The homemade hot sauce, available to order online, is a must and adds fruity heat to the simple and satisfying dishes.

Related Maps

The Door

Christopher Roberts and Joan Lewis opened this Caribbean restaurant in Queens in 2000 and quickly found fans of their homey dishes like Jamaican curry-laced goat and steamed snapper with okra. The specials are often the best option; some nights include stew peas with pig feet and goat stew.

Negril BK

Seafood shines at Park Slope’s Negril BK, as so does the atmosphere; the restaurant has three themed rooms that each give off a different island vibe. The crispy stuffed snapper served with pumpkin rice is a standout, though classics like braised oxtail and curry goat are also on deck. For dessert, try the rich bread pudding. Cocktails mostly fall under $15, and include options inspired by flavors of the islands, such as with a soursop rum punch.

Suede

Suede’s two-floor, nightclub-like interior makes it primed for large gatherings to get the party started. Caribbean classics like jerk chicken don’t disappoint, but there’s also twists like Creole pasta with oxtail. Pair it with one of Suede’s multitude of crafted rum flavors. 

Related Maps