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Escovitch red snapper at A Beautiful Life Jamaican Cafe in Downtown.
Escovitch red snapper at A Beautiful Life Jamaican Cafe in Downtown.
[Official Photo]

12 Exceptional Caribbean Restaurants to Explore in Los Angeles

Get a taste of Trinidadian, Cuban, Jamaican, Belizean cooking, and more

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Escovitch red snapper at A Beautiful Life Jamaican Cafe in Downtown.
| [Official Photo]

Dotted throughout the Southland are wonderful restaurants dedicated to Caribbean cooking. Caribbean food is a broad term that encompasses dishes from more than two dozen island nations that make up the region. Each country’s cuisine is a unique blend of indigenous ingredients, along with the influences from centuries of colonialism, slavery, and trade. From Jamaican jerk chicken to Cuban vaca frita, here now are 12 stellar Caribbean restaurants to try in Los Angeles.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Cha Cha Chicken

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1906 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 581-1684
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Cha Cha Chicken is a Santa Monica icon, a restaurant that has been a colorful beacon for jerk chicken–seeking diners from all corners of town (there’s also a location in Northridge for Valley residents craving pan-Caribbean dishes). The jerk chicken here is comforting and consistent, as are most of the sides you can eat with it, like fried sweet plantains, “dirty rice” and black beans, and tangy red cabbage slaw. Menu items that are vegetarian and/or gluten-free are clearly denoted, with ropa vieja, salmon marinated in curry and garlic, black bean soup, and jerk veggie wraps rounding out the options. —Nicole Adlman

2. Mojitos

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233 N Maclay Ave Unit A
San Fernando, CA 91340
(818) 639-0339

Warm hospitality and solid cooking keep the crowds coming to San Fernando’s Mojitos. Regulars swear by the vaca frita, grilled flank steak marinated in plenty of garlic and lime. And the best part about dining at a place called Mojitos is that it’s nearly a given that everyone orders one of the restaurant’s namesake cocktails. —Cathy Chaplin

3. Little Kingston Jamaican Restaurant

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4716 W Slauson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90056
(323) 295-5596

Tucked into a mini-mall on the stretch of Slauson that borders View Park-Windsor Hills, Little Kingston is a Jamaican restaurant that offers true comfort in the form of classic Afro-Caribbean dishes: pimento-spiced rice and peas (aka Jamaican “pimento,” or allspice), meat and seafood stews and curries (the oxtails and curry goat are particularly good), ackee and saltfish, and jerk chicken that makes your forehead sweat as you dip it into its accompanying sauce (always ask for an extra sauce). The interior is warm and inviting, and, when open, the small outdoor patio makes the idea of island time in Los Angeles feel more remotely possible. —Nicole Adlman

4. Little Belize Restaurant

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217 E Nutwood St
Inglewood, CA 90301
(310) 674-0696
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This Inglewood gem prides itself on serving the best oxtails in town, but before diving into all that richness, start with a few appetizers like the garnaches with black beans, diced onion, and dusted with queso fresco atop light and bubbly fried masa tortillas; and the panades stuffed with ground tuna and served with a fiery sauce on the side. —Cathy Chaplin

5. Wi Jammin Cafe

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1359 S Redondo Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 936-1039
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There are plenty of places to try Jamaican food around Los Angeles, but few carry the kind of heart that Wi Jammin has been showing for decades (the restaurant opened in 1998). From the rice and peas and oxtail to the brown stew chicken and callaloo, this Mid-City staple does it all. —Farley Elliott

6. Belizean Paradise Cuisine

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1271 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 937-7710
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Diverse Belizean food served from the front of a small independent hotel in the middle of Mid-City? Sure, that’s just how LA rolls. This destination stop offers garnaches snacks to start, conch soup to get the meal rolling, and entrees from Belizean tamales to stewed pig tails for main courses. —Farley Elliott

7. Trinistyle Cuisine

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2159 W Century Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90047
(310) 936-6876
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Started as a street food stand/catering company, and now a strip mall restaurant in South LA, Trinistyle from Merlin Garcia serves fantastic doubles, stewed oxtails, corn soup, and goat rotis to represent the varied and deeply delicious food of Trinidad. —Matthew Kang

Roti from Trinistyle Cuisine.
Roti from Trinistyle.
Wonho Frank Lee

8. Tracey’s Belizean Restaurant

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3810 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90062
(323) 735-2166

There’s a reason why the regulars keep coming back to this South LA stalwart. It starts with the Belizean specials for breakfast including fry jacks served with eggs and beans. Once lunch and dinnertime hits, it’s all about the stew chicken and oxtails. Don’t miss the weekends-only sweets like cassava pudding, caramel cake, and more. —Cathy Chaplin

9. A Beautiful Life Jamaican Cafe

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216 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 972-9900
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Founded in 2013, A Beautiful Life serves up “traditional Jamaican cuisine with California vibes” in Downtown LA. From lighter bites to hefty platefuls, the menu has enough variety for all. Hungrier folks will do well with the jerk chicken and oxtail plate that comes with rice and peas, sauteed cabbage, and fried plantains. For something lighter, try the jerk salmon bowl served over rice and peas. —Cathy Chaplin

10. Rumba Kitchen

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123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St #204
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 265-7899
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Omayra Dakis has buit a real homage to the street food and scenes of her native Puerto Rico, with an unlikely but lively space in Little Tokyo’s Weller Court, and delicious food featuring fried snapper (chiofrito) with plantain tostones, mofongo topped with grilled steak, and fantastic flan prepared by daughter and teenage pastry chef Maria Dakis. —Matthew Kang

Chiofrito, or whole fried snapper, at Rumba Kitchen in Little Tokyo.
Chiofrito (fried snapper) at Rumba Kitchen in Little Tokyo.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

11. Bridgetown Roti

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672 S Santa Fe Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(747) 221-9026
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The patties at Bridgetown, which pull from chef-owner Rashida Holmes’ Barbadian heritage, are about as close as one can get to a cultural phenomenon right now. Add in Holmes’ flaky roti and stewed meats, and it’s easy to see why this Smorgasburg pop-up is one of Los Angeles’s hottest places to dine right now. —Farley Elliott

Rashida Holmes is related to Eater LA’s Mona Holmes, who has no business connection to Bridgetown Roti; this relationship does not impact coverage.

Doubles at Bridgetown Roti at Smorgasburg.
Bridgetown Roti
Matthew Kang

12. Pasadena Fish Market

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181 E Orange Grove Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 792-9233

Look beyond the shop’s fresh seafood display and hone in on the small but superb Jamaican menu that includes goat curry, stewed oxtails, beef-stuffed patties, and plantains. But since you’re at a fish market, go ahead and throw in a side of deep-fried oysters or sand dabs, too. —Cathy Chaplin

Jamaican oxtails at Pasadena Fish Market in Pasadena.
Pasadena Fish Market
Cathy Chaplin

1. Cha Cha Chicken

1906 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Cha Cha Chicken is a Santa Monica icon, a restaurant that has been a colorful beacon for jerk chicken–seeking diners from all corners of town (there’s also a location in Northridge for Valley residents craving pan-Caribbean dishes). The jerk chicken here is comforting and consistent, as are most of the sides you can eat with it, like fried sweet plantains, “dirty rice” and black beans, and tangy red cabbage slaw. Menu items that are vegetarian and/or gluten-free are clearly denoted, with ropa vieja, salmon marinated in curry and garlic, black bean soup, and jerk veggie wraps rounding out the options. —Nicole Adlman

1906 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90405

2. Mojitos

233 N Maclay Ave Unit A, San Fernando, CA 91340

Warm hospitality and solid cooking keep the crowds coming to San Fernando’s Mojitos. Regulars swear by the vaca frita, grilled flank steak marinated in plenty of garlic and lime. And the best part about dining at a place called Mojitos is that it’s nearly a given that everyone orders one of the restaurant’s namesake cocktails. —Cathy Chaplin

233 N Maclay Ave Unit A
San Fernando, CA 91340

3. Little Kingston Jamaican Restaurant

4716 W Slauson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90056

Tucked into a mini-mall on the stretch of Slauson that borders View Park-Windsor Hills, Little Kingston is a Jamaican restaurant that offers true comfort in the form of classic Afro-Caribbean dishes: pimento-spiced rice and peas (aka Jamaican “pimento,” or allspice), meat and seafood stews and curries (the oxtails and curry goat are particularly good), ackee and saltfish, and jerk chicken that makes your forehead sweat as you dip it into its accompanying sauce (always ask for an extra sauce). The interior is warm and inviting, and, when open, the small outdoor patio makes the idea of island time in Los Angeles feel more remotely possible. —Nicole Adlman

4716 W Slauson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90056

4. Little Belize Restaurant

217 E Nutwood St, Inglewood, CA 90301

This Inglewood gem prides itself on serving the best oxtails in town, but before diving into all that richness, start with a few appetizers like the garnaches with black beans, diced onion, and dusted with queso fresco atop light and bubbly fried masa tortillas; and the panades stuffed with ground tuna and served with a fiery sauce on the side. —Cathy Chaplin

217 E Nutwood St
Inglewood, CA 90301

5. Wi Jammin Cafe

1359 S Redondo Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

There are plenty of places to try Jamaican food around Los Angeles, but few carry the kind of heart that Wi Jammin has been showing for decades (the restaurant opened in 1998). From the rice and peas and oxtail to the brown stew chicken and callaloo, this Mid-City staple does it all. —Farley Elliott

1359 S Redondo Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019

6. Belizean Paradise Cuisine

1271 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Diverse Belizean food served from the front of a small independent hotel in the middle of Mid-City? Sure, that’s just how LA rolls. This destination stop offers garnaches snacks to start, conch soup to get the meal rolling, and entrees from Belizean tamales to stewed pig tails for main courses. —Farley Elliott

1271 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

7. Trinistyle Cuisine

2159 W Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90047
Roti from Trinistyle Cuisine.
Roti from Trinistyle.
Wonho Frank Lee

Started as a street food stand/catering company, and now a strip mall restaurant in South LA, Trinistyle from Merlin Garcia serves fantastic doubles, stewed oxtails, corn soup, and goat rotis to represent the varied and deeply delicious food of Trinidad. —Matthew Kang

2159 W Century Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90047

8. Tracey’s Belizean Restaurant

3810 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062

There’s a reason why the regulars keep coming back to this South LA stalwart. It starts with the Belizean specials for breakfast including fry jacks served with eggs and beans. Once lunch and dinnertime hits, it’s all about the stew chicken and oxtails. Don’t miss the weekends-only sweets like cassava pudding, caramel cake, and more. —Cathy Chaplin

3810 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90062

9. A Beautiful Life Jamaican Cafe

216 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Founded in 2013, A Beautiful Life serves up “traditional Jamaican cuisine with California vibes” in Downtown LA. From lighter bites to hefty platefuls, the menu has enough variety for all. Hungrier folks will do well with the jerk chicken and oxtail plate that comes with rice and peas, sauteed cabbage, and fried plantains. For something lighter, try the jerk salmon bowl served over rice and peas. —Cathy Chaplin

216 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

10. Rumba Kitchen

123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St #204, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Chiofrito, or whole fried snapper, at Rumba Kitchen in Little Tokyo.
Chiofrito (fried snapper) at Rumba Kitchen in Little Tokyo.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

Omayra Dakis has buit a real homage to the street food and scenes of her native Puerto Rico, with an unlikely but lively space in Little Tokyo’s Weller Court, and delicious food featuring fried snapper (chiofrito) with plantain tostones, mofongo topped with grilled steak, and fantastic flan prepared by daughter and teenage pastry chef Maria Dakis. —Matthew Kang

123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St #204
Los Angeles, CA 90012

11. Bridgetown Roti

672 S Santa Fe Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Doubles at Bridgetown Roti at Smorgasburg.
Bridgetown Roti
Matthew Kang

The patties at Bridgetown, which pull from chef-owner Rashida Holmes’ Barbadian heritage, are about as close as one can get to a cultural phenomenon right now. Add in Holmes’ flaky roti and stewed meats, and it’s easy to see why this Smorgasburg pop-up is one of Los Angeles’s hottest places to dine right now. —Farley Elliott

Rashida Holmes is related to Eater LA’s Mona Holmes, who has no business connection to Bridgetown Roti; this relationship does not impact coverage.

672 S Santa Fe Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90021

12. Pasadena Fish Market

181 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91103
Jamaican oxtails at Pasadena Fish Market in Pasadena.
Pasadena Fish Market
Cathy Chaplin

Look beyond the shop’s fresh seafood display and hone in on the small but superb Jamaican menu that includes goat curry, stewed oxtails, beef-stuffed patties, and plantains. But since you’re at a fish market, go ahead and throw in a side of deep-fried oysters or sand dabs, too. —Cathy Chaplin

181 E Orange Grove Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91103

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