Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. Prices: Most items are about $4. Cards: No credit cards.
There are only seven dishes listed on the sign over the counter at Sweet N Spicy (all of them aren't always in stock), and only three small booths (most of the business is carry-out). The plates and cups are polystyrene, the forks plastic, the floors bare, the lights bright and fluorescent, so why a review?
Because this place serves up some excellent Jamaican food, including a few unusual items, at bargain-basement prices. A couple can eat here for $10, which can't be said about many restaurants these days.
Start with the excellent meat patties, similar to Latin American empanaditas, with a flaky pastry wrapper enclosing peppery-hot minced meat, delightfully sparked with curry powder and what tastes like a bit of oregano. At 75 cents for a generously filled patty, it may be the best buy in the house.
For drinks, try the ginger beer from Bermuda, or better yet, the home-made Jamaican sorrel drink. Both nonalcoholic, both dynamite.
If you're in a conservative mood, order the curried chicken: $3.60 buys half a bird, fresh, tender and succulent, in a clear sauce with light curry flavoring.
Sauces are the shining light at Sweet N Spicy, complex and intriguing, with layers of flavor that will challenge your taste buds. Except for the filling in the meat patties, the sauces aren't particularly hot, but there's a fiery Jamaican hot sauce on the side (similar to Tabasco, but with seeds).
The curried chicken comes with excellent diced potatoes that have absorbed the flavors of the meat and sauce through long cooking.
There's a barbecued chicken, too, with an excellent sweet-hot-tart sauce. And don't overlook the fish, a whole red snapper, bones in, that's very fresh and very well prepared -- moist and flaky-firm, with cooked onions in a mild sauce.
If you're feeling adventuresome, try the curried goat. It's very tender, and the flavor is no stronger than lamb. That's because of long marination and slow cooking in an aromatic sauce. And you get those same slow-cooked potatoes as with the chicken. Incidentally, ask for the roti bread (like a mooshi pancake) to wrap the meat and mop up the sauce.
Oxtail, although it comes with another corned beef-reminiscent sauce, is too bony and fatty to make a solid meal, even for the most adventuresome. Stick with the chicken or the goat. And perhaps the roast pork, which was out of stock when we visited.
All dishes come with excellent rice and beans cooked in coconut milk, and with sweet, fried plantain that's so good you should order some extra on the side. If you get there on the right night, or if you call in advance, there may also be Caribbean desserts. Remember, there are just three booths, so you may want to use Sweet N Spicy as a carry-out rather than a restaurant.