Faculty Favorites: Ms. Thompson crowns Caribbean Palace her go-to

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Faculty Favorites: Ms. Thompson crowns Caribbean Palace her go-to

Courtesy of Margot Durfee

Courtesy of Margot Durfee

Courtesy of Margot Durfee

Margot Durfee

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Maureen Thompson first stepped through Wilson’s main entrance in August of 1998.  She had just moved from her home country, Guyana, located on the northeast coast of South America between Venezuela and Suriname, where she was a lieutenant in the Guyanese military. Twenty-one years later, Thompson is a special-education teacher at Wilson and knows a lot about the DC food scene.

One restaurant she recommends is Caribbean Palace, a local eatery that specializes in roti, a round flatbread often wrapped with meat and vegetable fillings. Although Guyana is in South America, the country is often considered part of the Caribbean region due to strong cultural and historical ties, including similarities in cuisine.

Located in a strip mall on New Hampshire Ave in Takoma Park, Caribbean Palace is not your typical sit-down restaurant. Due to its relatively small space, with just a counter and four chairs, the restaurant only offers takeout.

As Thompson described it, “You go in, you see what’s there, and you order what you like.”

I decided to try it out.

Despite it being a Wednesday afternoon, a line of people stood around the eatery, waiting to order or pick up food from the diner-style tiled front counter. Above it were two large menus displayed on the wall. Below hung a small photo of Barack Obama biting into a roti. To the left of the counter was a wall covered in a vibrant mural of a beach, with a swaying palm tree in front of clear, blue water. The opposite wall was decked in colorful posters depicting beautiful scenery and animals of various countries, including “The Barbados Reef Creatures Guide” and “The Scarlet Ibi—Trinidad’s National Bird.” Tall front windows brought light into the room, making the space feel less crowded, and the cool breeze flowing through the open door made it feel like I was on the beach.

Caribbean Palace serves a variety of roti, curries, and desserts native to Caribbean countries including Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, all ranging between $1.50 and $14.95. While they do offer various roti with meat (including beef, chicken, and saltfish), there is also an extensive vegetarian selection.

I ordered the spinach roti ($6.75), which came warm off the stove wrapped in aluminum foil and was the size of my head. Because the filling is wrapped within the roti, it can easily be eaten on the go, similar to how one would eat a burrito. Folded inside the soft, chewy roti were smooth roasted potatoes and spinach, seasoned with chili pepper and curry leaf. While simple, the roti was flavorful and filling. Considering the price and sheer size of the roti, it is worth your money.

If you are looking for more variation in your meal, the chicken curry dinner ($12.50) is a good option. The tender chicken falls off the bone, and its sweetness complements the spice of the curry, roasted potatoes, and spinach. The rice serves as a nice base for the strong flavors and elevates the dish.