09 Jun The Best African & Caribbean Restaurants in Boston
Boston may not be known for its Caribbean influence, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Due to its maritime location and close connections to the Caribbean during and after the salve trade, the area has been home to members of the Caribbean diaspora since early colonial times.
According to Boston University’s Global Boston Project, “perhaps the most important reason that West Indians ended up in Massachusetts was the United Fruit Company’s direct steamer service from Boston to Kingston and Port Antonio, Jamaica. Headquartered in Boston from 1988 to 1938, the United Fruit Company (a predecessor of Chiquita) was one of the world’s largest banana and tropical fruit producers.”
That direct line of movement between the two regions helped develop the Caribbean community that exists in Boston today. And of course, they brought their culinary influences with them. Check out our round up of some of the best Black-owned African and Caribbean restaurants in and around the Boston area.
Gourmet Kreyol may be Boston’s first Haitian food truck, but its roots in Haitian culinary culture run deep. Nathalie, the founder, is the daughter of a pair of Haitian restaurateurs in Miami who ran one of the city’s first successful Haitian restaurants for 20 years. “Now I’m carrying the torch of bringing my family’s infamous recipes to Boston, with a twist,” Nathalie says.
For Black Restaurant Week 2021 – our first year in Boston – Gourmet Kreyol’s special menu item is the classic and unique Haitian dish Djon Djon rice, or “Black Rice,” which gets its flavor and color from dried mushroom water. Be sure to also check out the Poul Fri (Haitian Fried Chicken), the Salad Rus (a beet and potato salad), or the Haitian Spicy Pickled Slaw.
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Boston’s Comfort Kitchen is a lot of things. It’s a Black-, immigrant- and woman-owned business, it’s a community meeting space, and it’s an incubator dedicated to fostering cross-cultural understanding through food. But most of all, it’s one of the best restaurants in town to get authentic African and Asian cuisine. Chef Kwasi Kwaa is from Ghana and managing partner Biplaw Rai is a Nepali-born food industry entrepreneur.
Comfort Kitchen is located in the Uphams Corner Comfort Station, with pop-ups at the Popportunity Market and at Little Dipper. Check out their Kafta Sliders made with ground beef, tahini yogurt dressing, arugula and picked red onion on a brioche bun, their Plantain Chips with toasted coriander-lemon aioli, or the Charred Spiced Chicken made with preserved lemon marmalade and yellow almond rice.
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Inspired by the Haitian and Laotian roots of its founders, Neighborhood Kitchen in Medford, MA is an exciting cultural fusion for the taste buds. Their menu features dishes like the Pupu Platter, which comes with an array of rangoons, spring rolls, sweet plantains and Korean wings; the spicy Caribbean Fried Fish Sandwich, made of haddock filet, pikliz and chipotle mayo on brioche bread; and the Haitian Spaghetti tossed with onions and peppers in a secret tomato sauce with hard boiled eggs on the side.
True to its name, Neighborhood Kitchen is dedicated to not only feeding its community but making a real impact. They employ local staff, source goods from minority-owned businesses and provided free lunches to food insecure children as well as nurses and medical staff during the pandemic.
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One Love MaMaebelle’s Café is serving up authentic Jamaican food with lots of vegan and vegetarian options. Located in the Worcester Public Market, they create special Caribbean-themed menus that spice up holidays like Mother’s Day, Easter and even game days for the WooSox, Worchester’s minor league baseball team. Check out their beef, chicken or veggie patties, the Stewed Ackee & Codfish, the Sweet Potato Pudding and, on Saturdays, their Jamaican Oxtail.
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