It must be a bit disconcerting for an American to enter Caribbean Delite. The Trinidadian eatery is nestled unassumingly in a generic, largely island-themed strip mall on SW 160th. Reggae blares from the record shop down the way, but the interior of the restaurant is silent, save for the sound of cooking in the back room. You know that big overhead menu sign that’s normally present in every fast food restaurant? They don’t have one at Caribbean Delite. Nor do they apparently have air conditioning, as the sweltering heat on a recent Saturday visit revealed. What they do have is a crowd of impatient customers waiting at the front counter, and curry. Delicious, Trinidadian-style curried chicken, beef, goat, or shrimp, served with a heavy portion of paratha roti. Trinis call that particular kind of roti buss-up-shut. We’re getting ahead of ourselves.
For those who are new to the peculiarities of ordering food at a roti shop, here’s what you need to know. The menu is stuck onto the wide wooden counter, so venture forward and don’t be afraid to say “excuse me” to any burly gentlemen (or women) who might be blocking your view. There’s dhalpurie roti, which is a thin skin stuffed with dry chickpeas. If you order dhalpurie, your roti will be pre-wrapped, burrito style. If you order paratha or buss-up-shut, your curry will be served in a covered styrofoam container, and it will be accompanied with a full-to-bursting box of soft flatbread. We recommend the paratha. Rip with your hands, wrap up bits of succulent curry in your mouth, and devour as much as you can. A heavy, huge boneless chicken meal will set you back $8.25, and we highly recommend you go old-school Trini style and get yourself a kola champagne soda ($2) or a Carib beer ($2.50) to wash down the bounty. --Patrice Yursik
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