New Orleans has been called the northernmost Caribbean Island, a reference to the deep historic ties the city shares with islands including Cuba and Haiti. Trading partners with Cuba until the ’60s embargo, there are echos of the French Quarter in Havana’s pervasive Spanish colonial architecture. The ties to Haiti run even deeper, with thousands of refugees doubling the city’s population in 1809, forever connecting the two places with a shared bloodline. There are so many Caribbean eateries of all stripes, from Kenner to the West Bank to Mid-City and Magazine Street, there’s no way to count them all. With fine dining and casual spots, there are many out-of-the-way gems worth discovering.Read More
Where to Eat Exceptional Caribbean Food Around New Orleans
Get a taste of Trinidadian, Jamaican, and Haitian cooking at these varied New Orleans restaurants
Afrodisiac offers a winning fusion of Jamaican and Creole flavors, thanks to Shaka Garel’s roots in Kingston and his wife, chef Caron “Kay” Garel’s connection to her hometown of Lafayette. The fetching Gentilly cafe offers a menu grounded in Louisiana seafood, Jamaican jerk spice, and layers of bold flavors in dishes like grilled jerk shrimp and Caribbean fries with goat and gravy.
Coco Hut Caribbean Restaurant
Although Coco Hut has a few tables inside and out, this teeny tiny soulful spot on Bayou Road relies on a brisk takeaway business and a slew of regular locals. Open with an all-day menu Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., specialties include whole redfish with plantains, jerk chicken with plenty of kick, available with red beans and rice and garlic bread on the side. The hibiscus juice is freshly made and garnished with mint leaves, a great summer cooler.
Queen Trini Lisa
Lisa “Queen Trini” Nelson draws from her Trinidadian roots to serve Trinbagonian island soul food including flavors from sister island Tobago at this sunny, classy spot in Mid City. From oxtail soup to fried fish, rice and peas, and jerk shrimp, she cooks the flavors from her childhood, recipes she learned in her mother’s kitchen. Try the doubles, of course, Nelson’s specialty.
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Boswell's Jamaican Grill
This no-frills fast-casual spot on Tulane serves jerk chicken, homemade beef patties, brown stew fish, and other hearty Jamaican eats. For something different try the slow-stewed curried goat or chicken with roti, a soft, flaky flatbread that’s a cross between roti and naan.
Jamaican Jerk House
Chef Jackie Diaz channels her husband Richard Rose’s Kingston roots at Jamaican Jerk House where the slow stewed oxtail is legend, a deeply flavored ragu served over pasta or with rice and pigeon peas. Then there’s jerk chicken, perfectly spiced and crispy. The same goes for jerk pork or beef ribs, wings, pork chop, burger, or jumbo shrimp, served with sides like Caribbean spiced mac and cheese and fried sweet plantains.
Alma chef/owner Melissa Araujo’s father was born in La Ceiba, a coastal jewel on the country’s northern Caribbean coastline. Her childhood time there informs her breakfast/lunch menu, which offers soulful platters of refried beans, crema, and queso on homemade tortillas, called fritas Hondurenas or baliadas sencilla, eggs and avocado on those wonderful tortillas, with add-ons like chorizo and brisket.
Haitian-rooted chef Charly Pierre cross-pollinates New Orleans ingredients with the food he grew up with at Fritai, his groundbreaking restaurant on the edge of Treme on Basin Street. Here, crispy pan-roasted fish with plenty of snap is served with red beans, plantain, and Creole sauce on the side. Fans of cochon de lait need to try the crispy griot pork po’ boy, with added crunch and heat coming from Fritai’s pikliz, spicy chili-laced pickled vegetables.
Las Delicias de Honduras
At Las Delicias de Honduras, the menu is anchored by seafood, including shrimp and conch that pulse with oily garlic and whole fried red snapper that should be a centerpiece for a feast but can make a quick lunch. The must-try baleadas, folded flour tortillas stuffed with beans and cheese and whatever else you want, might just replace breakfast tacos in your pantheon of cravings.
Yawdi Jamaican Restaurant
Stewed oxtail is a favorite at Yawdi’s, a friendly spot on Tulane Avenue that does a ton of takeaway. Jerked chicken, curry goat, and brown steamed fish all conjure the flavors of rustic jerk huts on the side of the road in Negril.
14 Parishes Jamaican Restaurant on Oak
14 Parishes is on the move, soon to open a second location in Old Algiers. The Oak Street restaurant opened in 2021, with chef Charles Blake in the kitchen diving into his native Jamaican cooking. Curry goat, jerk chicken, and coconut shrimp are go-to favorites, but the jerk ribs are hard to resist. Try the $75 family meal, two meats and three sides is a good deal for four.
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Chef Nina may be St. Lucia born, but she loves New Orleans, where she mindfully moved after appearing on the 11th season of Top Chef. Since opening Compère Lapin in 2015, the chef, a true class act, has won international acclaim for her boldly flavored New Orleans and Caribbean cuisine. On top of her famed curried goat, a few standout dishes include tuna ceviche bright with coconut and lime, Jamaican brown stewed Gulf fish, and fried chicken with jerk honey butter.
This polished eatery brings island cuisine into the CBD, a higher-end (and pricier) experience than the usual mom-and-pop spot. But worth noting, NOLA Caye delivers a date night vibe, along with generous portions and potent tropical cocktails. The flavorful jerk sea bass, shrimp and jalapeño cheddar grits, and crab and conch fritters are all stellar. Popular for brunch.
Johnny's Jamaican Grill
Clinton “Johnny” Haughton and his brother Adam from Montego Bay have been hustling as a top mobile kitchen around town for years now. Their wares have been an anchor at Roux Carre, Circle Food Store, and now Deja Vieux food park, and have won top honors at the Jerk Chicken Festival a few years back. In addition to jerk chicken and fish, Johnny’s is known for brown stew chicken, and when it’s on the menu, curried goat.
Island Paradise Restaurant & Grill
This Island Paradise dishes West Indian Creole cuisine, with its ties to African, East Indian, and Asian cultures. Doubles are a favorite Trinidadian street food, flatbreads filled with curried chickpeas, a tasty vegan option. Stewed oxtail is cooked low and slow and is some of the best in town, the same for the stewed chicken. Jerked fish and shrimp sizzle with just the right amount of heat.
MANGÚ Authentic Dominican Cuisine
Mangu is such a sweet, family-owned spot, with warm hospitality and traditional Dominican dishes served with plenty of flair. The braised goat with gravy earns raves, as does the mofongo and starters like beef empanadas and fried yucca balls oozing warm cheese.