Howard street in Rogers Park has been Chicago's main Caribbean hub for quite some time. There's a handful of establishments serving the cuisine of Jamaica and places like Haiti and Belize are also represented. Recently I was riding west down Howard and noticed some flags hanging announcing the grand opening of a new place offering the flavors of Trinidad & Tobago. This was good news for myself as I've always been fascinated with this Caribbean islands cuisine and try to enjoy it when I get the chance. In Chicago the only chance used to be Cafe Trinidad but now that Taste of Trinidad is open there's two places. Coincidentally the owners at each of the spots are brothers.
Newly opened in Rogers Park
The tastes of Trinidad and Tobago are one of many blends, a big part of it's allure. You'll find Indian, African, Creole, European, and other flavors represented. One of the menu items listed under appetizers was called Pholourie which was new to me so that would be what I started with on my initial visit. These little balls are basically spoonfuls of spiced batter that are fried in oil and served with a chutney dipping sauce. The green sauce I was served tasted alot like Chadon Beni Chutney which is made with lots of cilantro and garlic. Very similar to Thai fried bread.
The most popular eat on the island is a roti which is also one of my favorite snacks. If you're not familiar I can start with the common description of a Caribbean burrito. Though instead of tortillas they use roti wraps which is part of the cuisines influence from India. It's a yellow shaded double layered flatbread thats stuffed with a curried stew making for a quick easy to eat island lunch.
Usually the stew will be a meat, curried potatoes and also curried chickpeas. While they do make an easy to eat lunch many places will serve the meat with bones still on. I prefer to use a knife and fork when there's bones inside which is what the goat meat has though only a couple pieces of the meat had bones on them and it was cooked just perfect to where it ripped right off. The potatoes were perfect in texture and the fruit based hot sauce brings another layer of flavor to an excellent sandwich, one the Northside was lacking. The curried chicken option is also very satisfying.
The other popular eat found all over the island are doubles. These are to Trinidad what the beef patty is to Jamaica. They make for a quick cheap snack and also pack plenty of curry and also turmeric punch. You could call them a sandwich but they can get messy to where you might need a knife and fork. Made with two pieces of bara which is a flat fried bread and stuffed with channa which is a curried chickpea stew. They also tend to include a chutney sauce and Taste of Trinidad serves an authentic example of this world class street snack on the weekends. I look forward to future visits. I should also point out that the hospitality is as authentic as the food. Great to have them as an option.
Taste of Trinidad
2045 W. Howard St
Chicago, IL 60645