With all due respect to plant-based laundry detergent and glitter phone cases that don’t actually protect your screen, spicy jerk chicken is the best use of $7 that we know of. And when you’re desperately hungry (or in need of a complement for your award-deserving potato salad on your way to a picnic), the best jerk chicken spot is the one closest to your apartment. But we set out to find the actual best jerk chicken in Brooklyn - the statement piece of the picnic, the chicken worth biking to in 90-degree heat. Now, we can confidently tell you about five spots in a class of their own. These are the best jerk chicken spots in Brooklyn.
Exquisite Express might just be the best place to get jerk chicken in all of NYC. We have yet to come across other pieces that are this charred, spicy, and fall-of-the-bone tender. The skin is perfectly crunchy while the meat itself tastes like it just came back from a six-month sabbatical inside of a smoker. If you’re planning to try this Flatbush spot, keep in mind that they’re takeout-only right now, and there may be a line since they’ve limited the number of customers who can be inside the restaurant for social distancing purposes. While you wait, you can watch the man behind the oversized grill doing his thing.
What to get: 1/2 jerk chicken with jerk & BBQ sauce
If you like your jerk chicken spicy, CJ Cafe in Flatbush a few blocks south of the park is your spot. When you take a peek underneath the skin, you’ll see juicy chicken meat that looks like it has a bikram yoga habit. The vinegar, chili pepper, and garlic from their dry rub are present in every bite, and all the excitement will make you want to do something dramatic, like pushing your A/C unit out of the window. Don’t worry, this will pass. If you want to tone down the spice a bit, you could smother your order with BBQ sauce. Just be aware that the magic in this meat is that you can absolutely enjoy it dry.
What to get: Large order of jerk chicken with white rice and oxtail gravy
Peppa’s has multiple locations around the city, and for good reason. Their jerk chicken does a lot of things well, but we especially like that each piece is juicy from the inside out. You can control how spicy things get, since most of the heat comes from their signature sauce, which tastes like a combination of BBQ and jerk flavors. If you stop by the original location on Flatbush Ave in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, there will be a wait. But it’s worth it for the kind of jerk chicken that has drawn crowds from all across the city for decades.
What to get: Medium order of jerk chicken with rice and peas and plantains
If you want your chicken to have a superior char, order it from Fisherman’s Cove. This Caribbean spot is about half a block from the Parkside entrance to Prospect Park, and there’s usually a line down the block to get in. And considering that this place is right around the corner from Peppa’s, this line means something. The perfectly charred jerk chicken here is crunchy on the outside, and could probably write its own book outlining the dichotomy between spicy and sweet. Oh, and about that line - there are actually several locations of Fisherman’s Cove across Brooklyn and on Staten Island. So if you don’t want to wait, you could try the Crown Heights, Brownsville, or Flatbush spots.
What to get: Medium order of jerk chicken
Eating coconut rolls from Errol’s is our favorite sweet and flaky pastime. So when we heard that these expert bakers also serve jerk chicken, we had to try it. Is it the best jerk chicken on Flatbush Ave? No - but they’re not too far off. The plump drumsticks and thighs here have smoky skin and succulent meat, but you’ll need to add lots of jerk sauce and BBQ sauce for the plate to really sing. This might be a good thing, if you’re someone who would rather dunk your head in a bucket of ice than eat something spicy. So there’s that. Keep this place on your radar for when you’re looking to pick up jerk chicken and Caribbean baked goods in the area.
What to get: Small order of jerk chicken with rice and peas and lots of jerk & BBQ sauce