4405 Bowen Rd.
Washington, DC 20019
Price Range: Inexpensive
Reservations: Not Needed
What makes this three-stool operation special? It's not the jerk chicken or the oxtail stew, though both are marvelous. It's the cabbage and yellow rice--afterthoughts at most Jamaican eateries. Here the cabbage is gently steamed, lightly crunchy, subtly flavorful; the rice arrives in fluffy grains.
This is island cooking of care and detail. You notice it in the soft hunks of oxtail, still pink on the inside; in the curries, which possess a depth that comes only from slow cooking; and in the jerk chicken, which isn't just a vehicle for heat but has a vinegary bite--the meat has the succulence of great barbecue.
Unlike the syrupy sweet libations at most Caribbean joints, drinks here find the seam between sweet and strong--especially the cucumber-ginger juice. A splash of gin and you'd also have a fabulous cocktail.
Also good: Vegetable stew; roti with goat curry; brown-stew fish; fish escoveich (with a tangy marinade of onions, vinegar, carrots, and Scotch-bonnet chilies).
Open Monday through Saturday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.