Chicago Jamaican restaurant guide

Whether it's jerk chicken, stewed goat or conch fritters you're craving, there's a great Chicago Jamaican restaurant to try.

1/5
Photograph: Martha Williams

Cafe Trinidad, which serves curry goat, is a great Chicago Jamaican restaurant.

2/5

Good to Go, which serves excellent jerk chicken, is a great Chicago Jamaican restaurant.

3/5
Photograph: Dave Rentauskas

Jamaica Jerk, which has salt fish, is a great Chicago Jamaican restaurant.

4/5
Photograph: Martha Williams

Jamaican Jerk Spice,which has tender oxtails, is a great Chicago Jamaican restaurant.

5/5
Photograph: Erica Gannett

Tropic Island Jerk Chicken, which has the best jerk chicken around, is a great Chicago Jamaican restaurant.

The Chicago Jamaican restaurant scene may get attention for its jerk chicken, but there’s so much more to try. Café Trinidad boasts rich curry goat, Good To Go bakes a terrific caramel cake, Jamaica Jerk has conch fritters, Jamaican Jerk Spice cooks up stewed meats and Tropic Island Jerk Chicken also smokes oxtails. While we won’t fault you for saving those choices for your second trip—after all, there’s a reason jerk chicken is the most famous Jamaican food—no matter where you choose, you won’t wrong at Chicago’s best Jamaican restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best Chicago restaurants

Chicago Jamaican restaurant guide

Café Trinidad

The Caribbean rhythms bouncing out from the speakers here are as upbeat as the family who runs this gem. Maybe it’s because they know the food is good, especially the rich curry goat; flavor-packed oxtails; and roti wrap filled with curried potato, chickpeas and fantastic jerk chicken. Don’t miss the housemade ginger beer and sorrel, a tangy, magenta-hued, hibiscus refresher.

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South Side

Good To Go

Whether you’re grabbing a meal to go or sitting down to eat at the counter of this bright storefront, expect your food to be served in a Styrofoam container with plastic forks. That’s fine by us because the dinners—such as the tender and gamey curried goat—are so generous you’ll want to take part of them home. The specialty of the house is excellent jerk chicken (sweet, hot and saucy) and juice concoctions made from fresh fruits and veggies, but the caramel cake is hot on the trail to becoming a signature standout.

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Rogers Park

Jamaica Jerk

Critics' pick

The Chicago-Evanston border has long been home to much of the North Side’s Jamaican cuisine. Among the tried-and-true, we like this tranquil ocean-blue dining room. Conch fritters and channa cakes (fried chickpea patties) are greaseless with fragrant curry notes; and the saltfish—slightly funky, salty pieces of dried fish hiding tiny morsels of bacon and peppers—is a must-try. Jerk chicken is deliciously seasoned but speak up if you’d like more heat. Don’t skip the Grape Nuts ice cream for dessert.

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Rogers Park

Jamaican Jerk Spice

Traffic on this stretch of Cottage Grove zooms by, but time slows to a mellow pace once inside this Jamaican joint. Standouts include meltingly tender oxtails slicked with salty, soy-tinged sauce, and meaty hunks of goat seasoned with that unmistakable West Indies curry powder, rich with turmeric and mustard. Jerk chicken leans dry, so stick with the stewed meats and grab a bread pudding for dessert and a fresh carrot juice while you wait.

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South Side

Tropic Island Jerk Chicken

Critics' pick

The Chatham residents who mill about inside this smoke-scented Jamaican carryout spot are all waiting on the same thing: the best jerk chicken around. Members of the Grant family work in tandem, taking orders for rich, allspice-laced oxtails and jerk-rubbed chickens out of foggy smokers before packaging them along with sides of cinnamon-candied yams and buttery braised greens. Order an extra side of the lappable jerk sauce to dip your chicken in, but be prepared to either make do with one of only two rickety tables or eat in your car.

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South Side

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