Trinidad and Tobago is an ethnic melting pot. It’s no surprise, then, that the south Caribbean nation’s cuisine incorporates elements from the world over. You’ll find native South American, Spanish, African, Indian, French—even Chinese and Lebanese—all mixing to produce the traditional, heartwarming flavors that together comprise the heart of Caribbean cuisine.
Expecting all of that, of course, made me a happy camper as I strolled into Trinidad Gourmet, a tiny, mostly take-out Trinidadian eatery off Greenmount Avenue in Abell. Quickly eyeing my options—outlined in a short menu, with some specials painted on the wall and photos of dishes pasted to the plastic partition between the restaurant and the kitchen—I ordered the curried fish.
(If you’re a returning reader, you’re aware of my natural inclination toward Indian-inspired dishes. I just can’t help myself!)
Served mixed with cooked potatoes and chickpeas, and wrapped in roti, a soft, chewy, pita-like shell, this $8 meal would have fed two of me. I found it a bit odd when asked whether I wanted hot sauce added to my meal and instinctively declined—but regretted it. With mild curry and little kick, I found myself scavenging for the stuff after a bite or two.
This dish, a staple on the Trinidad Gourmet menu, comes in all variations. Meat, seafood and veggie, with sides or without. You’ll also find some well-regarded oxtail stew, jerk chicken and sandwiches, including lake trout.
But Trinidad Gourmet’s real strength is its interpretations of the traditional street food of Trinidad and Tobago: aloo (potato) pies, doubles (curried chickpeas in roti), pholourie (fried dough balls), coco bread, and the famous bake (sweet, unleavened bread) and shark (no explanation necessary). Steaming, sizeable, wrapped in foil and around $2.50, these treats are ready in minutes and are good for the road.
So grab one or two street food classics and take a walk—go shopping along Greenmount, take your kids to the Stadium Place playground, or head over to Homewood to take in the grass-and-brick-filled sights.
You might want to hurry, though: now that spring weather is (fingers crossed) upon us, you know it won’t be long before the 95 degree Baltimore days roll around. And hot, foil wrapped pies will be the last thing you want—no matter how delicious.
413 E. 31st St.
Abell, in the Waverly Main Street commercial district.
Caribbean, specifically, Trinidad and Tobago.
You can fill your stomach for less than $3. For full meals, prices go up to $12.
Not enough spice, but this—like many things—is a personal preference.
Don’t overlook the refrigerator near the door—it’s full of refreshing libations like ginger beer and sorrel juice.
You’re on a budget and a time crunch. Order an aloo pie or a double, grab a ginger beer for the road; the entire meal will cost you less than $5 and you will not be disappointed. This is what I call a high-value eatery.
Don't go if:
There isn’t much of a dining area, so I don’t recommend eating in. There’s a counter and some stools, but they are mostly designed as a holding area for those awaiting takeout orders. Since my last visit, the proprietors have added a long table that will seat about 10—smack in the middle of the tiny restaurant, which is a bit awkward.