It's Really Hard To Find Caribbean Food In LA. You Can Start Here
It's hard to define Caribbean food, as it's a region that has, over the centuries, become home to people from all over the world, mainly via colonialism and slavery. The food tends to be highly-spiced and vegan-friendly with a lot of starchy vegetables, legumes, fruits, rice, plus seafood and grilled and braised meats. Popular dishes vary by island. Corned beef and macaroni and cheese and are common in the Bahamas, which has an overlapping culture with the American South. Cuban food is infused with Spanish and Italian elements, and Trinidadian food is truly international, with a strong Indian presence felt in its curries, heavy use of chickpeas and breads like roti.
When people in Los Angeles say Caribbean food, they're often referring to Jamaican food, specifically Jamaican food via New York City.
"[Transplants] are always wondering if L.A. has Caribbean food like New York," says Karuba Smith, owner of the three-month-old Jamaican restaurant Karuba's Yardy Kitchen in Inglewood. "When they taste my food, they say it's right up there."
New York is the epicenter of America's Jamaican expat community. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 300,000 Jamaican-Americans live in the state of New York. California, by comparison, has a mere 30,000.
"There are lots and lots of Jamaicans in New York and from all the other islands, so the food is really top of the line in New York City," Smith says, "the patties especially."