If you love Caribbean culture – the music, the festivals, the food and drink – simply head to London. Apart from the sun, nearly every area in London has something Caribbean to help spice the locale up. Whether you’re looking for a plate full of jerk chicken, a glass of rum punch or a summer festival, our guide will help you navigate London and find the coolest Caribbean vibes.
Where To Hang Out
Two of the trendiest places in London right now are Brixton and Harlesden. Unsurprisingly, both areas have an affluent Caribbean community. Brixton early in the morning is a great place to visit cafes; there’s an abundance to choose from. Negril serves Caribbean toast (spiced toast served with cinnamon and vanilla and toasted coconut), traditional cornmeal porridge and smoothies (the Caribbean Queen drink with papaya, pineapple, mango and a splash of dairy milk) will transport you from the busy streets of London to a tranquil beach in Jamaica.
Negril Restaurant, Brixton London
Move on to Harlesden, the centre of London’s reggae industry, and visit Hawkeye Record Store. Not too far away is the Mahogany Carnival Arts Workshop where visitors can look at and purchase costumes designed for the Notting Hill Carnival.
What To Do
Europe’s biggest street party fiesta takes place at the Notting Hill Carnival – why not take part in . Held on the August Bank Holiday, the Carnival has put London and the Caribbean community on the map. First started in 1964, the two day event attracts a worldwide audience. For those not up to braving the cheerful crowds but want to see the colourful costumes and floats, the carnival is aired on TV as well. Steel bands, food stalls and dancing attracts people of all ages to the West London streets.
Choumert Road Market, situated between Rye Lane and Choumert Grove is a vibrant hub with around 30 stalls selling African and Caribbean home wares, beauty products, clothes and food. It’s one of the best places to buy fresh salt fish and red snapper.
What To Eat
There are a number of terrific Caribbean restaurants in and around London that specialise in various island cuisines. Cottons, Camden Town has a great party atmosphere with classic dishes and over 150 rums behind the bar. The restaurant’s signature mixed jerk meat grill is a generous portion of pork ribs, chicken pieces, lamb kofta and pork belly served with rice, peas and plantain.
Bajan Spice in Peckham is a buzzing place where locals flit in and out for lunch and afternoon sweet snacks. Traditional dishes such as souse (a type of pork pickle) and cou cou (a cornmeal paste with okra) are constantly ordered. Bajan Spice is supposedly the only Barbadian restaurant in London but their food is just as authentic and flavoursome as any Barbados hotel.
Where to Rum To
Cottons Rum Shack
With over 250 rums behind the bar Cottons Rum Shack is the go-to place to sample some of the best rum cocktails outside the Caribbean islands. Based on Caribbean rum shops (small hut-like bars found on beaches and side streets), the bar has an extensive drinks list includes Sorrel Sling and the Jamaican Mule cocktails. Steel bands, limbo dancing and loud music complete the carefree Caribbean laid-back lifestyle vibe.
Rum makes d’world go round. That’s certainly true in The Rum Kitchen, a small West London bar and restaurant, which houses more than 100 different types of rum. While the menu is filled with Caribbean classics such as salt fish fritters, jerk chicken wings and seafood gumbo it’s the cocktail list that really shines. The one cocktail to try is The Rumbustion – a lighter twist on the piña colada.
About The Author: Nina is a freelance writer from London. You’ll also find her blogging for The Huffington Post, EasyLiving.co.uk and Fluid London. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop you can find Nina wandering around London markets rummaging through boxes of vintage books, scouring the charity shop clothing rails or writing down inspirational literary quotes in her notebook.