Cheap Eats 2011: Pimento Grill

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.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.