Tucked in a Takoma Park strip mall, the frill-free takeout spot Caribbean Palace has offered home-style dishes of the West Indies since 1991. Owner and Trinidad native Jeff Balgobin opened it after working at an American burger restaurant.
The menu is mostly dedicated to giant roti, or Caribbean wraps. Stuffed to the brim, roti are filled with curried meat, fish or vegetables, each paired with ground split peas. Bones are traditionally included to add flavor, so diners who bite with abandon should opt for the slightly pricier, but tooth-friendly boneless chicken over the regular chicken. Goat, typically gamey, is instead meltingly tender and mild, but watch for the large bones.
Vegetarians will eat well with fillings of potato, spinach or channa (a chickpea stew). The vegetarian doubles, curried chickpeas fried between two pieces of unleavened barra bread and topped with pepper sauce, are among the most popular items.
When a less messy meal is in order, Caribbean Palace dishes up a variety of dinner plates. The jerk chicken dinner presents three small peppery breasts with sides of plantains, spinach and dirty rice. Curries are available as dinner plates, too: beef, goat or chicken, or the three combined in an ambitious order that nearly overflows its container. Portions are massive, but that just means more food to enjoy later.
-- Erin Hartigan (April 24, 2012)