Taste Haitian Home Cooking at Piman Cafe in Fort Lauderdale

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Not many people outside Haiti are familiar with Haitian food. That's a shame, because the island's cuisine is a colorful blending of African- and Caribbean-influenced fare. And — just like the language — Haitian food also has a bit of Creole mixed in for good measure: root vegetables, meats like oxtail, peppers, and a unique blend of spices working together to form basic, zippy dishes that sing with a soupçon of French complexity.

That's exactly what you'll get at 1-year-old Piman Cafe, a small Haitian restaurant located on the outskirts of Wilton Manors just a few steps from Fort Lauderdale High School. According to co-owner Frandy Cardichon, Piman Cafe is also one of the few places in the area that offers several authentic Haitian dishes. Though there's no menu to help you decide what to order, the friendly staff will gladly explain the basic offerings that range from fried fish, chicken, and oxtail served with heaping portions of rice and beans and fat wedges of fried plantain.

For something hearty, order a bowl of Haitian legim stew: a complex dish with plenty of spices that help to make this combination of eggplant, cabbage, carrots, peppers, and spinach taste near sublime. The dish is a traditional Haitian meal typically flavored with braised meats like pork or oxtail and even seafood like conch or crab. It's thick, filling, and spicy and sticks to your ribs the way any good stew should.

For meat lovers, griyot (fried pork) is one of the more popular dishes of Haiti. But the pork itself is not the star of this dish; rather, it's the orange-based marinade that walks the fine line between sour and salty before resolving into a peppery heat that lingers on the tongue. On the island, it's often served with a spicy salad known as pikliz, Haiti's official condiment, a pickled vegetable slaw made with white-vinegar-soaked Scotch bonnet peppers, carrots, and cabbage. That's also how you'll find it prepared at Piman, where — if you're so inclined — you can even purchase a jar of the house-made condiment to go. 

Piman Cafe is located at 1560 NE Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-356-7995, or follow them on Facebook.

Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.

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