International Comfort Food Roundup: Caribbean Cuisine

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Chicken and chorizo empanadas from Caribe
Chicken and chorizo empanadas from Caribe

Photograph by Anna Knott

Set your sights further afield than just the city center and you’ll find plenty of quality empanadas, tostones, and mojo chicken with Caribbean pedigrees. Lesson number one: Order a Ting! While it’s non-alcoholic, it is effervescent and grapefruit flavored, and the high acidity makes it ideal to quaff with richer spicy foods. Case in point: the curry braised goat at C&M BBQ Grill in Kennedy Heights. You’ll have to eat slow to avoid ingesting some of the smaller bones, but in the process you can savor the rich nuances of Mary Solomon’s secret spice blend. A Jamaica native, Solomon also smokes up some mean spare ribs alongside dirt-cheap sides of beans and rice, greens, and a classic picnic potato salad. 6457 Kennedy Ave., Kennedy Heights, (513) 631-8888, cmbbqgrill.net


For tostones, we swear by Island Frydays. From the ubiquitous thump of Bob Marley—it’s scientifically impossible to be cranky while listening to reggae music—to some of the nicest counter help on the planet, Frydays should be your go-to lunch spot near UC for savory jerk chicken (heavy on the all-spice and scotch bonnet chilies) and beef patties (a savory pastry filled with curried beef). 2826 Vine St., Corryville, (513) 498-0680, islandfrydays.com


The alternative Caribbean hot pocket can be sampled just down Short Vine at Caribe. Choose the über-cheap combo with a chorizo empanada, rice, and two stews (we liked the jerk chicken and the lentils) for a whopping $8.50. Leftovers reheat well (to keep the empanada flaky, use the oven, not the microwave), if you have that kind of self-control. 2605 Vine St., Corryville, (513) 221-1786, caribeonvine.com

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