The Caribbean American Gourmet Soul Food Restaurant is located at 519 West Lexington Street, Baltimore, just barely a block from the world famous Lexington Market.
It offers real American food with roots in the homelands of the first Old World immigrants-willing and otherwise. You won’t find any of those sissy make believe fusion concoctions some confused California food artist begot in a crowded kitchen closet in this place.
This fine takeout dining establishment has it all: Pig feet, hocks, hog maws, chitterlings, pigtails and catfish as well as the more pedestrian American fare like beef ribs, pork ribs, curry chicken, curry goat, ox tail and chicken fried steak.
Veggies, too-collards, fried cabbage, lima beans, red beans, string beans, black eyed peas, white rice, spicy rice, veggie rice, sweet potatoes and fries. Processed starches like “mac n cheese” round out the menu.
These delicacies are all prepared personally by the hands of the owner himself-the world famous all over Baltimore, Mike of “Mike’s Famous Caribbean Grilled, BBQ, Jerked or Fried Chicken.”
I had the fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Mike salts, peppers, flours and fries the chicken to a golden crispiness on the outside and a hot juicy tenderness on the inside. This chicken is so tender and juicy; you can actually suck the meat off the bone.
Next, he makes the chicken gravy.
First, he browns the flour in the leftover chicken grease with the crispy flour coating that has fallen off the chicken. He must have some sort of secret spice because he produces the most flavorful fried chicken gravy that has ever tickled taste buds.
While this is going on, he is boiling the potatoes for his mashed potatoes.
When they are ready, he peels and mashes them himself with all of the pride that every father feels for his special love child and serves them drenched with fried chicken gravy.
While all of Mike’s food is tasty beyond imagination, his Caribbean Hot Sauce is the crown jewel of his empire. He makes it himself from Scotch Bonnet peppers, onion, carrots, and other secret ingredients. WARNING: This stuff is both DANGEROUS and flavorful.
I highly recommend it.
A word about the neighborhood is in order,
Those who are familiar with Baltimore know that the city is well seasoned and redolent with the delicate fragrance of decades and maybe centuries of urine that imbues the doorframes and the ancient red bricks of the buildings that line the downtown alleys. To be sure, this quaint neighborhood of delightfully eccentric, poverty stricken Americans is one of the more colorful in this magnificently colorful city.
In respect of this, Mike has spared no expense in developing the atmosphere of inner city ambience. You can’t find more authentic inner-city décor anywhere-except perhaps the sally port at the county jail. Heavy steel screens protect the doors and windows and inside there is room for only three or four customers (see the photos).
On one side, there is a heavy-duty unbreakable plastic window between the customers and the food. At the end, a rotating heavy-duty plastic carousel window in a heavy-duty steel door protects Mike and permits food to pass out and money and credit cards to pass in.
All this investment has paid off. When you step inside the Caribbean Gourmet Soul Food dining establishment, all you smell is freshly cooked chitterlings, hog maws, fried chicken and the mélange of other aromas from food cooked or cooking.
So, there it is.
If you want real American food, genuine American food of the sort that built the greatest nation on earth, tasty food, food that will broaden your butt; get your next meal at the Caribbean American Gourmet Soul Food Restaurant, just barely a block west of Lexington Market in quaint, exotic and exciting downtown Baltimore, Maryland.
Fine takeout dining just doesn’t get any better.