The Good Dine is the Bronx's best Jamaican restaurant, and there's one clear must-order: this oxtail.
'Jamaican' on Serious Eats
Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise that Jamaican patties in New York are so bad, as the low, low bar set for the Caribbean hot pocket makes the ones Christie's of Prospect Heights even more enjoyable.
Jackie's Caribbean Bakery is known chiefly for one thing: their coco bread. You'll find it in an unimpressive strip mall on the fringes of the Bronx, the kind of place that reeks of suburban stagnation. But it's the best coco bread I've had, fluffier and fresher than I knew the stuff could be.
Flatbush might be the destination du jour for Jamaican food in New York, but Bronxites know that there's a tasty patty or two to be had in Edenwald and Wakefield. One of the more celebrated takeout spots is Royal Carribbean Bakery, where you can get jerk chicken, brown pork, and other Jamaican standards for typically low prices. But it's the patties that people come for, and come they do.
Cheap eats don't exist inside Yankee Stadium, where you're liable to spend $5 on a Nathan's hot dog and $15 on a prime rib sandwich. Eating outside the Stadium offers a much less costly and international alternative—only two bucks for a snack at Concourse Jamaican Bakery.
If you ride the 5 train almost all the way to its northernmost stop, and get out at Gun Hill Road, you will find yourself surrounded by Jamaican and West Indian restaurants and grocery stores. Walking past the eateries hawking chicken, and markets offering such popular cuts of meat as "cow cod" (look it up), you might dismiss Katashe's as just another store, and one that doesn't look particularly well-stocked. In the back, though, you'll see a variety of patties piled up in a hot box. Behind the counter you'll see some steam trays, and you'll get a whiff of allspice. Ask the counterman what's available for lunch and he'll gladly lift the lids up to show you.
When you combine chef Bradford Thompson's cooking chops with the fact that his Jamaican wife Kerry-Ann's family owned several seminal jerk chicken restaurants in the Bronx, you have the potential for Jamaican food that's probably better than most of us have experienced in the Caribbean. The only thing that worried us as we walked into the restaurant is that Lily's is a Serge Becker joint, and Becker is much better known as a club owner and scene maker (The Box, La Esquina) than as a restaurateur. We had a real fear that the scene would trump the food. But we needn't have worried.
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Every day this week we'll profile one of the finalists from this year's Vendy Awards. Here is the first one.