Updated: Feb 28, 2022
The vibrant Caribbean flags waving proudly from street poles, windows, and dollar vans. The sounds of Kompa and Soca blasting from parked cards. The smells of spicy food filling up the neighborhood air. These are the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of home -- the Little Caribbean.
If you have never heard of the Little Caribbean, you may be more familiar with Flatbush, East Flatbush, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, or PLG - that last one irks me as it's a sign of the increasing gentrification of the area. For me, it is the place that I call home -- living there for 23 out of 32 years. As a result, I felt it was imperative that I write this post so that you can gain a better appreciation for my home -- enough so that you go support it!
In this post you will find:
Where are the best Caribbean food in Brooklyn's Little Caribbean?
Where is the best Caribbean spots in Little Caribbean, Brooklyn, NY?
What are some upscale Caribbean NYC, What are Caribbean restaurants in Brooklyn dine in?; What are Caribbean restaurants in Brooklyn with outdoor seating?
Where the best Black-Owned Restaurants in Brooklyn, Little Caribbean?
This post is just a taste of what the Little Caribbean has to offer. If you want a full scope, check out my Comprehensive Little Caribbean Guide: a 34 page guide featuring nearly 40 Black-Owned businesses including Take Out & restaurants; desserts; cafes; Vegan/Vegetarian/Plant-Based; Places to Chill; and other Businesses. It also includes major historical landmarks with history; important streets and so much more.
Where is the Little Caribbean?
The Little Caribbean is an area that extends from Empire Boulevard (width of Flatbush to Nostrand Avenues) to where Flatbush & Nostrand Avenues meet (known as “The Junction”). In between includes commercial areas that include Church Avenue and range from Ocean Avenue to New York Avenue. The restaurants, businesses, and homes of this area span about 5 miles. The Little Caribbean is home to the largest and most diverse Caribbean-American-LatinX community outside of the West Indies, making up 20% of New York City.
Below features in depth information on my 5 Favorite Black-Owned Food Spots to check out when exploring the Little Caribbean:
Food Spot 1: La Cabaña Rodriguez Restaurant
Address: 1062 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226
Check for Updates: Facebook
Country’s Cuisine Represented: Dominican
Order This: Half chicken (its roasted chicken) with sweet plantains and a small order of rice & peas; Chicken wings with sweet plantains; Henny Colada or papaya shake
History of Restaurant: Until recently, I was unsure of the history, but I know it has been here since the 1980s, as my mom talks about how she remembers when the matriarch of the family first opened it up. It is now mainly run by her children. This family-run Dominican eatery was opened by Ercilia Rodriguez (a native Dominican) and her late husband back in 1984. When she's not cooking, Rodriguez is training La Cabaña's next generation — her two granddaughters.
Personal Experience: This is MY SPOT! If you want delicious, well-seasoned, cheap, authentic Dominican food, you must come here! However, you must adjust your expectations when it comes to typical service. For example, there is always a line, not just because their food is great but also because their service is super slow. They have a tendency of favoring those who speak Spanish for service. For example, there have been many instances where those who speak Spanish but ordered after me got their food first. Lastly, sometimes the prices are not consistent, give or take $1-2. This probably has you wondering why I am recommending this place -- their food is just that good! I have had Dominican food in other locations on Flatbush and it just does not match up!
INSIDER TIP: They only take credit cards if you spend at least $10 & they charge you tax + a fee.
Food Spot 2: Fisherman's Cove
2137 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11210
2025 Church Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226
4 Newkirk Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11226
4917 Church Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203
542 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn, NY 1121
218 Parkside Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
1420 Rockaway Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11236
1122 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11213
1177 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10305
Country’s Cuisine Represented: Jamaican
Order This: Jerk Chicken; Rice & Peas; baked Mac & Cheese; Oxtails
History of Restaurant: Ever since it opened its doors in 2000, Fisherman’s Cove has been bringing authentic Jamaican cuisine to the residents of Brooklyn. Kirk Gibson’s appetite for expansion is not an accident, from the inception of the flagship location, Gibson, the CEO, knew that the market for authentic Jamaican cuisine is a vast one in Brooklyn, the largest concentration of Caribbean nationals in the US, and he plotted a strategic path for the other four locations over the next 14 years in the densely populated Caribbean areas. Fisherman’s Cove Jamaican Grill is a privately held company that will be elevating the Jamaican cuisine dining experience by franchising its brand not too far in the future.
Personal Experience: This is one of my favorite spots because their jerk chicken is on point – the perfect char and perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I love that they give big portions for a decent price in comparison to many of the other Jamaican spots in the area.
Food Spot 3: Allan’s Bakery
Address: 1109 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
Caribbean Cuisine Represented: Trinidadian
Order This: Currant Rolls, Coconut Bake, Codfish Fritters, Hardo bread
History of Restaurant: Allan’s Bakery is a third-generation family-owned bakery that has been in Brooklyn for over 50 years. Allan Smith, whom the bakery is named after, and his wife started baking goods in a small home oven and sold them in the back of his station wagon. As the business grew, Allan and Gloria opened a store on Saratoga Avenue in the 1960s. Businesses continued to grow, so they relocated to Nostrand Avenue, where it stands today. They continue to use old-fashioned baking methods. Everything is made in-house -- from the current rolls to the beef patties to the coconut bake and hard breads. The store is currently owned by Allan’s daughter, Sharon Smith-Fernandez — who now runs the store with her two sisters.
Personal Experience: There was a short line outside the restaurant when I went. The minute we stepped out of the store, the line became double the size. Service is quick! Warm currant rolls are my fave -- they tasted so good that I was surprised to find out that they are vegetarian.
Food Spot 4: Crème & Cocoa Creamery
Address: 1067 Nostrand Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11225
Country’s Cuisine Represented: Multiple cultural flavors -- owners are Panamanian & Haitian American
Order This: Dairy Flavors: Try Caribbean Vanilla and Caribbean Cocoa; Non-Dairy Flavors: Try Mango Tango and Soursop; Boozy Flavors: Try Cremas, Southern Belle Went North, and “Pina Colada”
History of Restaurant: This is a Brooklyn-based creamery that makes unique flavors of ice cream and sorbet in small batches. It started off as a coffee shop in 2016 when owners Omar and Astrid Thorpe were selling sweets on the side of coffee. However, when their business was struggling, they decided to change gears and capitalize on the ice cream that they were making. The business gained attention as they created Caribbean flavors unique to their childhoods -- Omar is Panamanian and Astrid is Haitian American.
Personal Experience: Both Omar & Astrid are super sweet and great to talk to! Omar was super patient as we ended up trying the majority of flavors they offered. They are constantly experimenting with new flavors -- at the time we went, they had “cornbread and jam” and “sweet potato and pumpkin” fall flavors. The weather was super nice, so it was relaxing to just sit right outside of their shop’s bench enjoying ice cream while taking in the sounds of Haitian Kompa playing across the street.
Food Spot 5: Zanmi
Address: 708 Rogers Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226
Country’s Cuisine Represented: Haitian
Order This: griot; djon djon rice; Kabrit Boukkanen; kabrit en sauce
History of Restaurant: Zanmi translates to friends in Creole. The owner refers to this restaurant as “Haitian Corner,” especially during warmer months when Zanmi hosts live sidewalk performances by artists such as Paul Beaubrun and Zing Experience. The owner, Wesly Jean Simon, started off as executive sous chef for the Hard Rock Cafe Times Square for 15 years. Wesly was born and raised in Haiti before moving to the U.S. He moved to Flatbush 5_ years ago to be around more Haitians. In wanting to present Haitian cuisine in a better light, he returned to Haiti for six weeks to better understand the food. After working with butchers and rural cooks in his home country, unlocking their secrets (“Respect the timing. Respect the ingredients. And there’s got to be love in it.”), in February of 2020 he opened Zanmi, an excellent, authentic Haitian restaurant in Flatbush. They host various events such as karaoke Tuesdays and live music every Thursday through Sunday.
Personal Experience: I have eaten here a few times. They have very good hospitality. It's a vibe if you come when they have a DJ or an artist. Certain dishes they have are amazing while others not so much. For example, I would highly recommend their griot; djon djon rice; Kabrit Boukkanen; kabrit en sauce. However, I would not recommend their soup joumou or seafood appetizers. Overall, I would recommend eating there while they have an event such as their Mother's Day Dinner.
BONUS: I have created a special edition blog post to focus on my favorite Black-Owned spots in Little Haiti, which is a sub section of the Little Caribbean.