It’s no secret that Crown Heights is chockful of Caribbean restaurants. Looking for roti? Head to the area east of Washington Avenue between Atlantic and Eastern Parkway. Jerk chicken? Panamanian dishes? We’ve got it. But some of the least underscored Caribbean cuisines are worth seeking out too. Take food from Trinidad and Tobago, which specializes not only in the spicy curried roti of its Caribbean brethren but also in doubles, flavor-packed little chickpea sandwiches topped with Scotch Bonnet sauce and cucumber salad, and bakes, deep-fried dollops of dough wrapped around chunks of meat or served with saltfish and rice. Though other pockets of Trini cuisine are dispersed throughout the city (like in nearby Flatbush) Nostrand Avenue, in the heart of Crown Heights, is a treasure trove of Trinidadian cuisine. Below, our round-up of some of the best Trinidadian food on the avenue.
1. Trini Gul
This gem is technically in the Bed-Stuy part of the Crown Heights-Bed-Stuy continuum, right past the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Nostrand. It has all the usual roti suspects and an excellent sweet and spicy double, but people in the know come here for their bake and shark, a rarity in New York. It’s a fried bake bread stuffed with chunks of shark, topped with cucumber salad, hot sauce, and tamarind sauce. Be careful for the bones, but othersiwe, you can’t go wrong.
543 Nostrand Avenue
2. Trinidad Golden Place Restaurant
Nostrand Avenue’s foremost Trinidadian-Chinese bakery is usually packed, the line stretching out the door for their offerings of sweet and buttery coconut drops, fish pies, curry chicken bakes, and wontons. Chinese and Trinidadian may seem like an odd bit of New York City fusion, but in fact it’s one of those odd colonial hangovers, like Vietnamese sandwiches, stemming from the Chinese population of the islands that originally arrived as indentured servants to work on the sugar cane plantations. The two styles marry very nicely, resulting in dishes like Chinese-style chicken (also available at Trini-Gul, but only on the weekends), wings spiced with ginger, soy, five-spice, and Scotch Bonnet sauce.
788 Nostrand Avenue
3. Gloria’s III
This joint skews more pan-Caribbean than just Trinidadian, but still offers up specialties like Bake & Saltfish and Macaroni Pie alongside their oxtail, rotis, and jerk chicken. It has serious neighborhood cred, but it’s also caught the eye of food adventurers like Anthony Bourdain, who came here with actor Michael K. Williams of The Wire fame to chow down on curry goat and sea moss drink. They also serve a variety of doubles, which not only come with the traditional tamarind sauce but are baked in the stuff, giving the deep-fried bread an extra zing.
764 Nostrand Avenue
4. Ali’s Trinidad Roti Shop
This little counter, tucked a block away from the Nostrand A/C stop, is an ideal place to grab a double on your way to or from the train. The doubles here are serves rolled like tacos, rather than stuffed or sandwiched between two layers of bread. The roti options here included not just the usual chicken and goat, but also spinach and pumpkin. They also have hot and toothsome aloo pies, a type of samosas stuffed with hot, spiced potatoes, and pholourie (pronounced Po-lor-ee), deep-fried chunks of batter served with a variety of chutneys.
1267 Fulton Avenue
5. Royal Bakery & Roti House
The bread that this little shop churns out on a daily basis makes their doubles some of the most remarkable ones on the block. They’re airy, flaky, and spicy, just the way they should be. Other baked treats that you shouldn’t pass up include the currant rolls and milk biscuits. The roti is also some of the best in the neighborhood, which you can order with a side of lo-mein or fried rice, if you fancy.
618 Nostrand Avenue