Caribbean Cuisine Brings a Taste of the Tropics to Metro Detroit

By: Karen Dybis | January 22, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Norma G's.

If you’re starting to believe that Michigan’s skies are only gray, then you need to seek out some tropical flavors at Metro Detroit’s bars and restaurants that highlight the food of the Caribbean. Having a warm plate of jerk chicken, some savory oxtail tacos and a cold, fruity beverage will make any sky seem a bit brighter. 

Metro Detroit is home to a variety of cuisines, and some of its best chefs come to the restaurant scene from Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean communities. Immigrants from around the world have had a profound impact on Detroit’s celebrated food scene over the past century, and Caribbean chefs and home cooks alike deserve credit for bringing diversity, rich spices, strong flavors and regional dishes to Metro Detroit.

Caribbean foods come in an array of styles and spice levels. There will be some things most menus will include, such as the rich jerk spices that have long been associated with this food style. Some traditional ingredients include plantains, breadfruit, peppers of all heat levels and fish. Classic dishes include roti, rice and peas, curry with goat, sweet potatoes, fritters made with a variety of ingredients and callaloo, which is uses like spinach across dishes. 

What people think most about when they crave Caribbean food is not only its eye appeal – think bright colors, lots of textures and beautiful presentation – but the array of influences that come into the preparation and taste of the cuisine. There are influences from Africa, Middle East and Chinese food histories as well as modern culinary takes that make Caribbean food so exciting and innovative. 

Here are some Metro Detroit restaurants that offer some of the best Caribbean foods for you to try for carryout. 

Norma G’s Detroit

This fine-dining experience blends a high-end experience with Caribbean cuisine. This restaurant has had to pivot to carry out during the past few months, and customers say they are loving taking their favorite bites and cocktails to go. Almost everything at Norma G’s is made from scratch, including the sorrel balsamic vinaigrette, jerk spice mixes and more.

 

Coop Detroit

Located inside the Detroit Shipping Company, Coop Detroit is best known for its chicken. Its locally raised birds are marinated for 24 hours with Asian and Caribbean flavors and finished with its signature sauce – a blend of garlic, ginger, allspice, cilantro, sour oranges and, an all-time Caribbean favorite, bonnet pepper. Delicious. 

Jamaican Pot

Put the best of soul food together with Jamaican spices and sauces and you’ll get the flavor bomb known as The Jamaican Pot. Its plates and specials are large, so prepare to share your barbecue meats, rice and beans and hearty portions of plantains. You can order for carryout or you can pick up a variety of dishes that are frozen to make at home. 

Lost River

This Tiki-inspired bar is only doing carryout cocktails for now, but you won’t be disappointed in the delightful drink mixes at Lost River. A great tropic treat is The Jean Genie, which features a blend of Cynar, Arak, Papas Pilar Blonde, Falernum, fresh squeezed Lime, fresh squeezed Grapefruit and Hibiscus Cinnamon Syrup.

Gray Ghost

You might not think of Gray Ghost right away when you think of coconut, pineapple or other tropical flavors. But the inventive minds at this Detroit restaurant are always working on new tastes and dishes. One to check out is its Monkey Bread, which features an anglaise sauce with flavors of coconut and cinnamon. It’s large enough to share as well, but you might want to keep this sweet dessert all to yourself.