Charlotte has a solid selection of excellent Jamaican food

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Through Beth mack

March 24, 2021

For a country the size of Connecticut, Jamaica has had a disproportionate global influence. Sure, there’s Bob Marley and Red Stripe, but that only scratches the surface of Jamaican culture and cuisine. Located in the Caribbean Sea with a population of just under three million, Jamaica is world famous for its food. The country’s tumultuous history culminated from many different rhythms into a harmonious rhythm which is what we know today as Jamaican cuisine.

Dive deeper into some of Jamaica’s iconic dishes and you’ll discover various culinary influences. A popular Jamaican preparation of fish, fish escovitch (fried fish topped with pickled onions, carrots, and Scottish peppers) is Jamaican variation of Spanish escabeche. For the famous Jamaican pancake, look no further than the rhythm of Great Britain. Jamaican galette is a savory turnout filled with meat or vegetables encapsulated in a puff pastry shell that can be eaten on its own or stuffed into a sweet coconut bun. The rhythm of India is felt through the Jamaican style of curries and rotis that can be found on almost every Jamaican menu. Ackee fruit, used in Jamaica’s national dish of ackee and salted fish (dried and salted cod) was imported from Ghana.

Beef patty with coconut bread at Lawrence Caribbean Restaurant.

But no dish is more Jamaican than jerk. Jerk seasoning usually consists of Scotch Bonnet peppers, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, ginger, brown sugar and salt. It is used as a dry marinade or a wet marinade on meat, then grilled slowly and slowly. Other dishes to look for are oxtails, brown stewed chicken, and fish prepared in various ways. These dishes are often served with rice and “peas” (red beans), fried plantains and cooked cabbage or callaloo (native leafy green similar to kale), it is food for the soul.

Jamaican cuisine offers a little something for everyone from seafood lovers to non-meat eaters. With warmer weather on the horizon, sit back and relax with a cool breeze and enjoy the rhythm of flavors that Jamaican cuisine offers Charlotte.

Island cuisine

A newcomer to the Jamaican culinary scene in Charlotte, Island Cuisine offers one of the most generous menus. Opened in 2018 in North Charlotte, Island Cuisine serves dishes you won’t find anywhere else, plus a full bar to complete the experience. Browse the menu and you’ll find seven varieties of patties, curries, oxtail, jerk chicken, and seafood dishes that can lead to indecision. If you want to try a variety of meats or different styles of preparation, try one of their combination platters. Spend a Friday or Saturday to enjoy their unique jerk pork, barbecue chicken, fried chicken, and festival specialties (fried cornbread fritters), but be sure to stop by early as they usually sell out. Finish your meal with one of their many authentic Jamaican desserts such as gizzada or a slice of dark rum cake. Island Cuisine isn’t just a restaurant – they also offer a small selection of groceries so customers can bring the flavor of Jamaica home.

Island cuisine
5332 Docia Crossing Rd., Suite A
Charlotte, North Carolina 28269
(980) 237-2677

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Goat cheese curry at Island Cuisine

Lawrence Caribbean Restaurant

Just around the corner from the airport you’ll find a humble white cinder block building that brings you the authentic flavors of Jamaica without the cost of a plane ticket. Jamaican-born owner Gavin Lawrence opened the Lawrence Caribbean Restaurant in 2015. While they’re known for their oxtails, the puff pastry is not to be overlooked. Their menu is completed with your typical jerk chicken, curries, rotis and stews. For a taste of Jamaica’s national dish, stop by on a Friday or Saturday when they serve ackee and salt fish. To top it all off, you’ll find a selection of Jamaican sodas, homemade beer and sorrel juice, or ginger ale.

Lawrence Caribbean Restaurant
3011 boul. Where is
Charlotte, North Carolina 28208
(980) 299-0609

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Oxtails at Lawrence Caribbean Restaurant.

Island groceries and grills

Tucked away in a mall off Albemarle Road is one of Charlotte’s oldest Jamaican restaurants, Island Grocery and Grill. Go up to the counter and you’ll find a modest menu filled with the best hits of Jamaican cuisine as well as baked goods and fresh, home-made Irish sorrel and moss juice. Island Grocery offers the elusive yet authentic peanut juice (a blend of peanuts, water, condensed milk, sugar, nutmeg and vanilla) which is typically used to make peanut punch by adding white rum. . In addition to food, Island Grocery offers the largest selection of delicacies imported directly from Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean. Stop by on a Friday and Saturday to try their weekend specials of jerk or ackee chicken wings and salted fish. With no seating available, it’s best to pre-order on their website or you can find them on GrubHub and Postmates.

Island groceries and grills
5861 Albemarle Road
Charlotte, North Carolina 28212
(704) 532-0322

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Stewed chicken, yams, rice and peas.

Caribbean hut

One of the most popular Jamaican restaurants in Charlotte is the Caribbean Hut. Over 10 years ago, chef and native of Jamaica, Trevor Lewis, went in search of authentic Jamaican food in Charlotte, but remained empty. Thus, Caribbean Hut was born in 2010. The flavors Lewis concocted were so successful that he developed his business to grow from its original location in the University District. The second location off Woodlawn Road in Charlotte opened in 2014, followed by a location in Gastonia in 2016, and they recently added a location last January in Clemson, SC. Boasting one of Charlotte’s biggest Jamaican menus, Caribbean Hut has something for everyone, including tofu curry, rotis, fish, chicken, oxtails, patties, and sandwiches. A unique menu item that you won’t find anywhere else in Charlotte is the callaloo roti.

Caribbean hut
9609 N. Tryon St. – (704) 593-0030
200 W Woodlawn Road. – (704) 527-9505

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Caribbean Hut Jerk Chicken Combo.

Irie Nation

Irie Nation is located on the outskirts of Noda on North Tryon Street. Formerly Irie Vibes, Irie Nation’s compact menu packs a punch of flavor with the tried and true dishes of Jamaica. Browse the menu and you’ll find the usual suspects of jerk, curries, oxtails, and the Jamaican quartet of cooking methods for fish (fried, steamed, escoveitched, and simmered in brown gravy). For the full Jamaican experience, grab a hold of one of the limited dining tables and treat yourself to a drink in their full bar and enjoy an authentic meal while lounging to the beat of modern Jamaican music. You can also find Irie Nation on DoorDash, GrubHub, and Postmates.

Irie Nation
2729 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, North Carolina 28206
(704) 909-7377

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Curried shrimp at Irie Nation

Caribbean Restaurant Finga Lickin ‘

Finga Lickin ‘Caribbean Eatery has been serving authentic Jamaican Charlotteans cuisine since 2014. Stop in the parking lot of the small, light green building and you will be greeted by the smell of jerk chicken cooked on the grill at the back of the restaurant. Once inside the cozy restaurant, you will notice a mini convenience store for items imported from Jamaica. Of note on this menu is the inclusion of authentic breakfast items other than ackee and salt fish. In addition to the Jamaican national dish, you can also try plantain porridge, the steamed fish served with dumplings and banana, or callaloo and salted fish. Other unique dishes on the menu include cooked beef and a great selection of bottled Jamaican sodas and juices.

Finga licking
2838 La Place
Charlotte, North Carolina 28205
(980) 430-5120

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Oxtails at Finga Lickin ‘Caribbean Eatery.

Dishes cooked in the garden

A native of Jamaica, Neville Storer has been in the kitchen his entire life. He ventured out selling Jamaican food in college and gradually grew his business from there to a food truck and then to a brick and mortar restaurant he opened in 2017 located in the west of Charlotte. In addition to serving authentic Jamaican dishes, Yard Cooked Dishes also offers Chicken Wings which can be mixed with any of their 17 sauces and served with steamed cabbage, plantains, and a choice of rice (white , yellow or peas and rice). Neville will sometimes cook special dishes that aren’t on the menu, so keep an eye out for those.

Dishes cooked in the garden
1610 Ashley Road, Suite 7
Charlotte, North Carolina 28208
(704) 496-9021

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Oxtails, plantains, steamed cabbage, and rice and peas at Yard Cooked Plats.

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