Finding worldly bites for $12 & under.
Intrepid travelers know that sometimes the best ethnic food is found in the back of a portable cart, in a dusty garage-turned-makeshift cafe or in a convenience store with a meat smoker out back.
That’s why true believers shouldn’t bat an eye at the empty industrial shelves walling off the kitchen from the makeshift dining area, the worn Jamaican flags draped on the walls with fading Bob Marley posters or the cracked, stained vinyl covering the only seating booth inside Caribbean Corner, a tiny Jamaican restaurant just off Old Town Fairfax‘s Main Street.
The oxtail stew ($7.75 for a small single serving or $12.85 for a generous portion for two) is so worth it.
The natural gelatin in the oxtail is meltingly tender, and the stew is warm and homey, bolstered with hints of allspice and peppered heat. The stew is served over rice with crisp-tender plantains and sliced tomatoes, all of which compose a tasty meal that outshines its Styrofoam container.
The Jamaican curry chicken ($5.95 for a small, $8.95 for a large) is also a can’t-miss dish. Heavily yellowed from turmeric, the chicken falls from the bone into a mellow, slightly sweet curry sauce worthy of finger-licking.
The staff is also more than accommodating. Even though my 2-year-old enjoyed the curry’s subtle heat, my 4-year-old son complained—“This curry is OMG so spicy”—so loudly that the chef heard and surprised him with a just-right sampling of brown stew chicken, saying “you tell me if you like this better.” My son promptly devoured it.
Caribbean Corner might not be much to look at, but when it comes to food and service, they’ve got it all figured out. / Caribbean Corner, 4008 University Drive, Fairfax; 703-246-9040
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