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Jerk, ital and escovitch fish: it’s the best of Jamaican London

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Time Out London contributor

Afro-Caribbean communities have existed in Britain for centuries, but a specifically Jamaican presence was established during and after the two world wars, when Britain recruited soldiers and labour from the Caribbean. Faced with the hard climate of Britain (as well as social ills like racist housing policies), people started missing elements of home. While the sun and beaches couldn’t be replicated, the Jamaican culture of food and music gave rise to late-night bars, ‘shebeens’ complete with dancefloors and street carnivals across Britain, where Caribbean meals such as rice ’n’ peas and dumplings were always guaranteed.

These days you’ll be hard-pressed to find a purely Jamaican food spot: most draw on cuisine from across the Americas and beyond. But, as events like Notting Hill Carnival and slang words used by young people of all backgrounds both show, modern-day London’s still got Jamaica in its bones. Riaz Phillips

Did you know? Jamaica was the first bit of the British Empire, and a visit might make you wonder whether you’ve left London: the island’s towns include Islington, Highgate and Richmond.

Riaz’s favourite Jamaican spots in London


A photo posted by Belly Full (@belly.full) on

One of the few places dedicated to the Rastafarian vegan diet, Ital n Vital in South Tottenham is as much a wellbeing knowledge centre as a place to get amazing food.

Named after the birthplace of Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey, Ochi Caribbean Takeaway is a favourite for west Londoners. While you wait for red pea soup or escovitch fish, be sure to gaze at the Hall of Fame of signed photos from the stars who have tucked in here.

There are queues out the door during lunch hour at both branches of Peppers & Spice, which produce every Caribbean delicacy under the sun.

The film ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ depicts a lifelong dedication to the craft of sushi. Imagine that with jerk chicken and you’ve got local legend Smokey Jerkey in New Cross.

See Riaz Phillips’s ‘Belly Fully’ photography at a Dalston exhibition in association with Guinness.

The best of Jamaican London, according to you

‘Everyone swears by the Wright Jerk Centre in Wembley.’ Sandra E via

‘The best roti wraps in south London: Umana Yana in Herne Hill.’ @martindaay via Twitter

Lincoln’s Patisserie in Tottenham has the best patties in the city, hands down.’ Ms J via

Rudie’s and White Men Can’t Jerk.’ Tia W via

Jerk in Da Park in Waterloo. Absolutely amazing: sells out every day.’ Sean A via

Now discover the best of Polish London.

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