Exploring the West Indian restaurants and markets along Nostrand and Flatbush Avenues is like taking a mini vacation to the Caribbean without having to venture further than Brooklyn. This is a world of rotis, pones, macaroni pie, cou-cou and mounds of tropical produce. Concentrated roughly in a square mile bounded by Empire Boulevard, Nostrand Avenue, Cortelyou Road and Flatbush Avenue, just take the B or Q subway line to Prospect Park and head south on Flatbush for your excursion.
Head to Culpepper’s, a take-out at 1082 Nostrand Ave. where you can pick up a Barbadian (or Bajan) consisting of Cou-cou, chunks of cornmeal in a soupy tomato and onion sauce topped with fried flying fish fillets. Peppa’s, a tiny Jamaican jerk joint at 738 Flatbush Ave. serves up a mean $5 portion of roti: an Indian-style flatbread wrapped burrito-style around generous portions of potatoes, chickpeas, and curried goat.
A Grenadian restaurant, De Island at 1199 Nostrand, serves up yard fowl, scrawnier albeit natural and hormone free chicken with more tasty dark meat accompanied by ground food, a variety of starchy root vegetables. Browse carefully further down Nostrand and you’ll find Haitian cuisine at La Déesse featuring pintade, a guinea hen with traditional Haitian black rice. With a bakery seemingly on every block, you’ll have plenty of choices for dessert. I recommend Errol’s at 661 Flatbush boasting a broad selection of bread pudding, cassava pones, and callalloo rolls, soft bread filled with a thin spinach-like layer of its namesake vegetable. Wash it down with a drink made from hibiscus or fresh biting ginger beer.
Beyond food, tons of shops sell Caribbean music and clothing where bargaining is expected. Or stop by the stalls at the Flatbush Caton Market and patronize the small local artisans, direct-from-the-islands fruit and vegetable purveyors for that special home cooked meal. Better yet, head over to nearby Prospect Park, check out the Botanical Garden, lounge on a bench and give your belly a rest.