My Top Picks: Best Jamaican Restaurants in Harlem
*updated on April 7, 2020
There has been a lot of shake ups for the Jamaican restaurants in Harlem since I first shared my favorites list nearly 2 years ago. Two restaurants have closed and one new one opened up, so my list was in need of a refresh.
For those who aren't aware, Harlem is not like Brooklyn. Harlem has a much larger African American and African influence, so a good Jamaican or even Caribbean restaurant is harder to find. Now, I'm no food blogger, but as a Jamaican who knows good Jamaican food, I am fully qualified for this task. So I put in the work and here are my top picks for Jamaican Restaurants in Harlem.
Location: 2143 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10027
Phone: (917) 675-7477
Jerk House is new to Harlem but not new to New York. I watched this location like a hawk while they were completing the construction last year because I could hardly wait to test it out so that I could report back to you.
My first order consisted of Brown Stew Chicken, Fried Jerk Chicken (both pictured below), Jerk Chicken and Chicken Soup.
The Fried Jerk Chicken was fresh out of the fryer and it was delicious. The jerk flavor wasn't there at all, but it was a great piece of fried chicken and everything you want it to be, hot, crispy and well seasoned.
My husband and I ate the Jerk Chicken and Chicken Soup so fast that we couldn't capture a picture to share with you, but both were very tasty. And I've gone back for the soup many times, it has the flavor that takes me back to Saturdays growing up when my mom would spend all day in the kitchen simmering her soup to perfection.
Jerk House is a great spot and the staff is friendly. But don't let the friendly faces fool you, the food is authentic. Jerk House has everything you're looking for, plus a well stocked selection of Caribbean beverages to wash it all down.
Location: 2492 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10030
Phone: (212) 234-6300
Little Ochie is also the name of one of my favorite beach side restaurants in Jamaica and so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best on my first visit to this restaurant.
I ordered a small Brown Stew Chicken, a small Curry Goat and a slice of cake for a total of $20.69 which is a great deal. Until I realized that they never offered me any cabbage or veggies as a side. I'm not sure if that is their standard practice or if they had just run out because all Caribbean restaurants in my experience offer some type of vegetable with their meals.
Little Ochie isn't fancy, there are no bells and whistles here, the lady at the front greets you with the usual “slightly annoyed” face, so you better know what you want to order, no playing around, LOL.
Both of the meals that I ordered were good, nothing was lacking in the taste department.
Now, the cake was dry. But I really had no business ordering it when I know that I have dessert at home.
Now that I've moved and I'm a little closer, I will be putting Little Ochie into my regular rotation.
Location: 280 Malcolm X Blvd New York, NY 10027
Number: (917) 261-7668
The name says it all. The food never disappoints and the selection is great, combining traditional dishes with some new spins on old favorites like jerk fried rice.
This is a popular spot with a great location, less than a block from 125th Street and Malcolm X Blvd, so there typically is a line, but they always have plenty of servers (although there still can be some confusion behind the counter) and I've never had to wait very long to get my food.
In the many times I've been to Caribbean Starr, I've never had a bad experience. Everything tastes delicious, even the bright orange Macaroni and Cheese (seriously, why is it so orange?), although it can be dry, tastes really good.
They have all your favorite Jamaican dishes AND some surprises like Fried Crab.
Fried Shrimp, which is expensive at $1 per shrimp but it's seasoned to perfection and delicious.
They even catered my baby shower. All my Jamaican relatives ate the food approvingly, with no complaints, so that should say something too.
When I'm ordering Jamaican food, I typically get either Brown Stew Chicken with rice and peas or Curry Chicken with white rice. What do you usually order?