Carnival Spirit: London’s Best Jerk ChickenBy Alicia Grimshaw
Bank Holiday weekend in London means one thing: Notting Hill Carnival. Shops are stocking up on an endless supply of Red Stripe and Jamaican flags are being mass produced as we speak. To get you in the carnival spirit, we’ve found London’s best jerk chicken. They’re all clucking amazing.
The Story: White Men Can’t Jerk burst onto the street food scene back in 2013 and have been making waves ever since. Renowned for their chicken wings, cool vibes and filthy beats, White Men Can’t Jerk isn’t just about eating – it’s an experience. Their Caribbean food is packed full of smokey flavours, spices and has a real comfort feel about it.
Eat: Get stuck into their WMCJ signature jerk chicken, you’ve read about it, you’ve seen your Instagram feed full of pictures of it, now it’s time to get your mits on it. Their prime quality chicken is marinated with their own fine blend of jerk paste and grilled to perfection on their custom BBQ. Served with vibes sauce, rice and peas, pineapple and mango salsa and coleslaw. That, my friend, is a jerk chicken win.
Where: Locations here
The Story: Fish, Wings and Tings is a stripped back cafe found at the edge of Brixton Village. It’s big on flavours and less on decor. You come here for food and the atmosphere – the furnishings are more of an after-thought. Owner Brain Danclair has created an easy to navigate menu that combines simple ingredients to create food full of gusto.
Eat: There’s no denying that their jerk chicken is something special – it’s tender, moist and is lathered in a tamarind sauce which is a winning combination of sweet with a subtle spicy kick. For sides, it has to be their codfish fritters, fried to perfection and served with ginger and lime aioli – a perfect citrus accompaniment. Come here hungry, leave happy.
Where: 2 Atlantic Road, Brixton, London
The Story: Lawrence and Marlene Fearon are the husband and wife duo behind Bamboula. This authentic Caribbean restaurant is a home away from home for hungry South Londoners. It’s got a charm that many restaurants lack, from the colourful Jamaican decorations down to the Caribbean music – Bamboula has a shed load of soul that can be tasted in their food.
Eat: Jerk dishes play a big part on Bamboula’s menu. Their chicken is outstanding, but dare we say it – their jerk pork and lamb are even better – all served with spicy slaw, sweet potatoes and grilled corn. Order their nice and warm rum drink with vanilla and honey. It’ll warm your cockles on a cold Thursday night.
Where: 12 Acre Lane, London SW2 5SG
Photo Credit: Instagram Jade Anastasia
The Story: Negril is another jerk chicken gem in Brixton’s Caribbean food scene. Rough around the edges, but their philosophy is simple – create nourishing grub made with love and care. They use organic coffee, free-range chicken and organic eggs for better tasting dishes. They don’t cut corners at Negril. Nando’s? You shouldn’t set foot in that place once you’ve been to Negril.
Eat: You can’t go wrong with the Negril platter for two – a full chicken with plantain wedges, rice and peas, coleslaw, mixed salad, chips plus salt fish fritters. It’s enough to feed a small army, you’ll be chowing down on it the next day. Their salt fish fritters are lightly battered, with no oily residue – it’s not greasy, it’s bloody amazing.
Where: 132 Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RS
Photo Credit: Oh So London
The Story: Adrian Luckie is the chicken chief at Mama’s Jerk. Mama’s started as a legacy for Adrian’s late great grandmother, with Mama Charlotte’s secret jerk sauce recipe passed down through generations. This street food stall has been dishing up some of the best jerk chicken for five years with people travelling far and wide to get their hands on their sensationally cooked meats.
Eat: It’s the jerk sauce that plays a big part in why Mama’s Jerk has become so popular. Using fresh, spicy ingredients that adds an delicate hint of heat to the chicken. All of their chicken has been marinated for 24 hours, then it’s cooked on the BBQ with the meat falling off the bone. There’s no need to hack, people. Dig into innovative Jamaican inspired veggie dishes – we can seriously vouch for the jerk vegetable cake wrap. Man, do we love Mama’s Jerk.
Where: Pop Brixton and Camden Market
The Story: Pull up a chair, sit down and let me tell you about Boom Burger – it’ll knock your socks off. Josh grew up in Montego Bay and lived off his Auntie Sharon’s home cooked Caribbean food. Bringing over the Jamaican flavours to London, Josh has fused explosive spice combinations with the highest class, British-bred meat to create some of the best burgers in town. Their burgers are absolutely ‘booming’ (sorry).
Eat: At Boom Burger, it’s all about quality. There’s six burgers on the menu and each one is executed in fine fashion – there’s no need for an ridiculous amount of toppings when the burgers taste this damn good. Keep it simple with the boom burger with cheese and bacon jam or go for their famous jerk chicken burger topped with rocket and a mango and pawpaw sauce. It’s the stuff of carnival dreams.
Where: 272 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W10 5TY
The Story: Dub Jam is a slice of Jamaica in Covent Garden. Behind the music, buzzing chat and the large wooden communal table lies a resturant that knows what goes into making delicious jerk-style food. Owner Kieron Botting has created something special – there’s a warmth about this place that instantly draws you in and they have a rum menu like no other.
Eat: Don’t be shy at Dub Jam, at this place it’s all about getting stuck in. Their jerk chicken skewers are sublime. The chicken is marinated for 48-hours, slowed cooked for 8 hours and then BBQ’d with peppers for the ultimate smokey flavour. Remember to ask about their reggae infused rum – believe me, it’s actually a thing.
Where: 20 Bedford St, London WC2E 9HP
The Story: The Rum Kitchen are all about bending the rules. They’ve developed a menu that concentrates on Caribbean beach shack food, with a sprinkle of global flavours and a massive Rum Kitchen twist. Think jerk chicken sharing plates, jerk tofu and spiced baby squid.
Eat: Where do we start with Rum Kitchen, for one the menu is overwhelming – you’re spoilt for choice. If you’re indecisive, all I can say is – good luck. Their jerk chicken wings with scotch bonnet sauce is an absolute belter, as is their sticky BBQ ribs. For something filling and delicious you can’t go wrong with their curried mutton.
Where: 6-8 All Saints Road, London, W11 1HH and 1st Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby, Soho, W1B 5PW
The Story: Away from the try hard hipster bars in Shoreditch and the over-priced restaurants of Hoxton, lies a place of real beauty. Troy Bar claims to be ‘London’s best kept secret’ and we agree. Know for their open mic sessions every Tuesday and their Jazz funk sessions on Friday, Troy Bar has fused together good music with good food.
Eat: The menu is by no means fancy and sticks to well-loved Caribbean dishes. Expect jerk chicken, steamed fish, chicken curry and goat curry. All dishes are at priced at £6.50 and are served with rice and peas, sweet plantain green salad and coleslaw, now that’s what we call a bargain. Save your money on a pint of fancy craft beer and get yourself down to Troy Bar – you can thank us later.
Where: 10 Hoxton St, London N1 6NG, United Kingdom
Photo credit: Instagram – Find Me Lunch
The Story: After suffering from an eye injury, ex-professional boxer Warren Richards decided to put down his gloves and trade the ring for the kitchen. Cooking up traditional Caribbean food that is mum and grandmother use to make, Warren has created heavenly chicken, ackee and saltfish and veggie dishes. These dishes are made with love they so rightly deserve.
Eat: If you’ve never been, you have to order the jerk chicken – it’s tangy with a mild spice and the addition of the homemade jerk sauce gives the chicken some oomph. Don’t miss out on their saltfish fritters, with just the right amount of seasoning which doesn’t overpower the taste of the fish.
Where: Old Spitalfields Market, London E1 6EW
One to try at home..
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- A bunch of spring onions
- A thumb of ginger
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 chillies, seeds left in for a hot jerk or removed for a milder jerk
- 8 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2-3 tsp honey
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 4 organic or free range chicken legs