There’s jerk chicken, and then there’s jerk chicken from
Petworth’s Sweet Mango Cafe (3701 New Hampshire Ave., NW;
202-726-2646). Jamaican native George “Lenky” Beckford has been cooking up
the moist, expertly spiced birds since the no-frills eatery opened 23
years ago and has the method—a variation on a family recipe—down to an
First, the poultry gets a quick cleaning in a rinse of citrus
and vinegar. Then comes the main event: a thick, barely wet rub that
includes garlic, ginger, pimiento, Scotch bonnet peppers, and lime juice.
Pieces of white and dark meat marinate overnight before getting a turn on
the charcoal grill. The result: smoky, lightly charred chicken, redolent
of the jerk shacks of Jamaica. You can order it as a dinner spruced up
with gravy and rice, peas, and cabbage, but we like it road-food style on
“hard dough,” which despite its name is a pillowy, lightly sweet
This article appears in the August 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.