You might remember me from last month’s guide to Island Hopping In Brooklyn’s Little Caribbean. Since the 1960s, Flatbush has been a Caribbean melting pot for Afro-Caribbean immigrants from Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Trinidad, and other island nations who call this neighborhood home. Which is why, in 2017, I helped spearhead the designation of this neighborhood as Little Caribbean. As a Flatbush native and the Founder and Chief Curator of caribBEING, a thriving cultural venture that works at the intersection of culture, community, and commerce, I’m really excited to share even more recommendations from the innanets, friends, and neighbors with a follow-up to my first guide.
Here, I’ll take you even deeper into Flatbush and East Flatbush, to Bob Marley Boulevard and the Junction. Along these corridors you will find what we call “Old Brooklyn” - vernacular signs, bodegas, architectural gems like Kings Theatre, Sears & Roebuck, Erasmus Hall, the Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church, Victorians and barrel front brownstones. Come hungry.
FLATBUSH & THE JUNCTION
One of the most iconic intersections in Brooklyn, the Flatbush Junction - or as locals call it, the Junction, is a bustling intersection of Caribbean food, community, and vibes. On a walk, subway to the first/last stop on the ⅖ train, or dollar van ride into Brooklyn South, be sure to check out Brooklyn College, the Flatbush parrots, and Victorian Flatbush.
A Little Caribbean favorite and go-to spot for patties, Ital Fusion is especially known for their generous portions and plant-based patties that come in flavors like pumpkin, lentil, and callaloo. The juices are bursting with island spices and flavors - and if you’re hungry, vegan, or vegetarian, I recommend one of their meals that comes with a generous portion of fried sweet plantains. Sample any of their mineral-rich seamoss blends or juice elixirs, too. My favorite is their soursop-seamoss, a slightly thick cocktail that can be a meal on its own, or the zesty passion fruit.
When in the mood for Caribbean street food or if you’re experiencing carnival tabanca (withdrawal), this is the place. My pick is the shark burger with fresh toppings like pineapple, cucumber, and chadon beni topped off with a healthy drizzle of tamarind. The sweet-sour sauce with a slight kick of pepper gives this sandwich a tangy twist. Pair it with a Kola champagne and you’ll feel like you are on Maracas Bay.
Fisherman’s Cove is known for its jerk and its healthy portions. At any of the locations throughout Central Brooklyn, including Parkside Avenue, Church Avenue, and Newkirk Plaza, you’ll be welcomed by a buffet of curries, oxtails, stewed and fried fish with heaping sides of rice and peas, and plantain and vegetables. Some community favorites are fall-off-the-bone oxtail, baked mac and cheese, and cabbage. Ask for extra gravy and a side of plantain.
These are hands down some of the best patties in Brooklyn. I’d strongly recommend ordering an assortment, but my go-to is Tastee Pattee’s chicken patty. For breakfast, I pull up for ackee & saltfish, which is served with boiled green bananas and fried dumplings. You should also try their cow foot or fish head soups if you’re looking to mix it up.
A woman-owned Guyanese-Trinidadian eatery that expanded in 2020, McBean’s is one of those places you pull up to for authentic Caribbean cuisine like oxtail with peas and rice or a Caribbean breakfast standard like ackee and saltfish with ground provisions. This is one of the few fast-casual restaurants on the Junction, so I’d recommend eating in or if you’re taking out, head over to Hillel Plaza for a meal al fresco.
Another Flatbush culinary institution and home of rasta pasta, Footprints is an iconic Caribbean restaurant with three locations in Brooklyn. No visit is complete without sampling the penne in a creamy jerk sauce topped with shrimp or oxtail. For pescatarians, there’s also an extensive seafood selection. My personal favorites are red snapper or kingfish with bammie. The Coney Island location is a fun outpost near the boardwalk, and did I mention drinks?
A Caribbean wine bar with a laid-back atmosphere, Sip Unwine is one of my favorite sit-down restaurants in the neighborhood. I personally love going on Caribbean Karaoke night, or during warmer months to sip on sorrel wine, and to lime in their cozy backyard with its oversized hummingbird mural. Chef Lindel cooks their mac and cheese in a mini cast iron skillet to perfection. I typically top mine off with jerk shrimp and if I’m hungry, I’ll order the whole snapper, another standout dish. There’s also a full bar, so grab a cocktail or glass of wine with your meal.
BOB MARLEY BLVD.
In the first guide to Island Hopping In Little Caribbean, I mentioned that Church Avenue was co-named Bob Marley Boulevard in 2006. So it’s only right to provide a list of must-visit restaurants in the East Flatbush area. When you exit the ⅖ subway station, look for the bright green sign. You are in the heart of Little Caribbean.
Just steps from the subway is another go-to for succulent jerk chicken. I usually pair mine with macaroni pie (baked macaroni and cheese) and steamed cabbage. The storefront is a window to the kitchen where you can watch the chicken being grilled to smoky perfection. That’s where the magic happens.
West Indians are pioneers in juicing and Ital (plant-based) cooking. From wholesome punches like seamoss and peanut to green juices, Nostrand Avenue Health Food Store, located steps from the ⅖ subway station at Church Avenue, has been serving Brooklyn’s Little Caribbean for 26 years. Here I’d recommend the nutrient-rich Sea Moss Shake or World of Greens Shake. CaribBEING’s Kenya Cummings recommends their lunch special, which consists of a veggie burger and fresh juice for only $7. While you’re there you can also do some food shopping and pick up West Indian herbs and remedies, like fresh sea moss which contains 90% of the RDA of minerals, so you can make your own at home.
Haitian riz djon djon (black rice) is one of my favorite rice dishes, and Bebe Fritay makes a great version. Pair this iconic dish prepared with smoky black mushrooms with accra and legume like Jamaican-Haitian artist Ayana Sheree did on her most recent Little Caribbean community takeover, and you’ll be transported to my favorite Haitian cities, Jacmel and Cap Haitian.
You can never go wrong in Little Caribbean with roti, and you’re in good hands at the second location of Jen’s Roti Shop on Church Ave. Roti is one of my favorite foods, and my preference is always goat buss up shut, a.k.a. paratha with pumpkin and potatoes, but I’d also recommend Jen’s tasty aloo pies. By now you might be noticing a trend here, so let’s not forget the sauces like tamarind, cucumber chutney, and pepper. On one of our recent tours of Little Caribbean with Ladies who Meat, a favorite was stewed chicken feet and my fitness trainer, Marlon Jude, raves about their pelau, a one pot dish with rice, pigeon peas, and chicken or beef.
Trini Breakfast Shed specializes in bakes, a Caribbean breakfast bread ranging from sada to coconut to floats. My pick here is roasted coconut bake prepared with flour, coconut milk and dried coconut. I’d try this with smoked herring, a salt-cured fish seasoned with onions, tomatoes and herbs or if you want to go more traditional with a bit of texture you can pair with saltfish with pumpkin.
I grew up going to Bake & Things, and really love their food as it transports you back to Trinidad & Tobago. Fried bake with saltfish is an iconic staple in the Caribbean and one of the things I’d recommend, but if you’re hungry and want to try something different, go for their curry crab and dumplings. Pair these dishes with mauby, a bitter-sweet bark with anise, sugar, and a splash of Angostura bitters - especially refreshing on a hot summer day.
Serving authentic Guyanese cuisine and with flavors heavily influenced by African, East Indian, and Chinese traditions found in the Caribbean, The Hills offers an extensive menu of seafood, stewed BBQ, curried meats, vegetables, and baked goods. I haven’t been here yet, but on my radar are the escovitch snapper, cook-up rice, lo mein, and pine tarts.
An authentic Little Caribbean bakery, Back Home offers a healthy twist on currants rolls made with whole wheat. You will be welcomed by the scent of homemade bread, also a staple in Caribbean households. Try any of their selections, especially black cake, a rum-soaked cake made with mixed peel and typically served during Christmas and at weddings.
A cultural entrepreneur born in NYC and raised between Brooklyn & the Caribbean, Shelley Worrell created caribBEING, spearheaded the designation and development of Little Caribbean, and is the head of Caribbean Partnerships for the US Department of Commerce. Worrell has produced 400+ immersive experiences in partnership with top corporations and cultural institutions including James Beard Foundation, Google Arts & Culture, Studio Museum in Harlem, Vox Media and others. Her multi-platform & cross-cultural activations have been featured by Black Enterprise, NBC, and Hyperallergic; and she has been personally profiled in The New York Times and Good Morning America. Worrell holds a BA in Cultural Studies from CUNY, Brooklyn College and a MA in Media Studies from the New School.