Negril is located in a jamming part of downtown Silver Spring, across the street from a used-record store broadcasting old tunes. The restaurant's order counter is where the action is. Here sibling co-owners Earl and Marguerite Chinn handle a steady stream of hungry customers, most of whom order their food to go. Some eat at the few tables inside, nursing ginger beers, munching on cake and watching the foot traffic hustle past Negril's big windows.
Blue-collar workers stand in line next to corporate types, "all waiting to eat from the same pot of jerk chicken," as one customer said.
One of the spiciest items on the menu is also the priciest -- escovitched red snapper -- a whole fried fish in stewed tomatoes, onions and mild and hot peppers, at $9.25. Negril's does great roties, a Jamaican pancake filled with stewed goat, chicken, shrimp or vegetables. Just watch out for goat bones.
Lunchtime is Negril's rush hour. Save time and call in your order.
Great grab-and-go food is the traditional Jamaican school lunch: a beef patty (a spicy ground beef turnover), coco bread (a buttered roll) and a kola champagne (Jamaican cream soda).
The restaurant started as a bakery and still has a fine hand with fresh baked goods, ranging from carrot cake to sweet plantain tarts, to even sweeter gizzadas: small Jamaican coconut pies.
-- Amy Wahl