The Jamaican Dutchy… a Midtown Cart on Island Time

“The Arepa Lady”. “The Dosa Man”. “The Dragon”. New Yorkers love their street food… and while most carts toil away in anonymity, there are a few street food vendors that have achieved legendary status. Singled out by magazines, posters on Chowhound and the Vendy Awards, these “destination” carts draw people across borough lines for some of the best food the city has to offer.  Like most of the great food in New York, most of these special carts are outside of Midtown, but there are a few we can brag about.  Hallo Berlin, Daisy May’s BBQ, and of course the Famous Chicken & Rice Cart on 53rd St. & 6th. (The one with the line at 2 in the morning.)

Now, we have one more to add to that list. The Jamaican Cart. While it may take a lot of time for most carts to build up a following, there was a line 15 people long on the second day The Jamaican Cart appeared. Serving up jerk chicken, and stewed meat, word spread quick and the lines never seemed to go away.  Unfortunately, it didn’t take a genius to realize the lines were more from the slowness of the service, than anything else… but it was still a line. And if people are willing to wait 45 minutes for food from a cart, then it must be good, right!?!

What they serve, food porn and a +/- after the jump…

It took me awhile to figure out exactly how the ordering works, but here it is.  The menu rotates every day, but they seem to always have Jerk Chicken, Stewed or Curry Chicken, Curry Goat and Oxtails.  Then there are specials that rotate each day, like escovitch and Sweet & Sour Chicken.  A regular order of meat comes with either Rice & Peas or Jamaican Dumplings, fried plantains and steamed cabbage.  This costs $7 to $9 depending on what kind of meat you want (Chicken dishes are usually $7, Goat is $8, Oxtails are $9).

Curried Goat w/ Rice, Steamed Cabbage & Plantains
Curry Goat w/ Rice & Peas, Plantains & Cabbage

If you want double meat then it is more expensive.  $10 to $12 will get you a choice of two meats, with all the same sides.  Two chicken dishes will run you $10, more expensive meats will be more.

Jerk Chicken/Sweet & Sour Chicken Combo, The Jamaican Dutchy, Midtown NYC
Jerk Chicken/Sweet & Sour Chicken Combo w/ Rice & Peas, Plantains & Cabbage.
Click on the photo for a breakdown.

The picture above is the combo with Jerk Chicken and Sweet & Sour Chicken (a special).  The sweet & sour was whole pieces of chicken stewed in a sweet but spicy filled sauce until it was fall off the bone tender.  I really loved it, and it provided a great contrast to the spicy jerk chicken.

Curry Chicken w/ Dumplings - The Jamaican Dutchy, Midtown NYC
Curry Chicken w/ Dumplings, Fried Plantains & Salad
Click on the photo for a breakdown

Everything I’ve tried from the Jamaican Dutchy is delicious.  The jerk chicken is spicy and packed with flavor, the stewed meats are fall off the bone tender.  The rice and peas have definitely gotten better as the weeks have gone on.  There are a few drawbacks for picky eaters.  This is not a light lunch, and if you don’t like picking bones out of your food, then this authentic homemade Carribean food is probably not for you.  Also, don’t drop the curry chicken on your shirt, it stains. (What can I say? I’m a fat man with no class).

But those little things pale in comparison to the noticeably bigger problem.  The service couldn’t be slower.  The first week the cart was open, it was almost laughable how slow they were.  I say almost because when it takes 45 minutes to serve 10 people, person #11 isn’t laughing.  In fact, person #11 would usually wait 5 minutes and leave, only to be replaced by a new person #11, who would then leave after 5 minutes and continue the cycle.  Every day this would go on.

I asked them why it took so long, hoping they would realize that they were losing business by forcing people to wait so long for their food.  They blamed it on ”the rice not being ready” or ”not making enough food”, but it was pretty obvious why it took so long… they had no system!  A popular food cart is usually a well oiled machine.  Have you ever seen the guys on 53rd St. & 6th Ave. during the 2am rush on a Friday night?  They’re not screwing around.

The Jamaican Dutchy… not so much.  The guy who was making the food, also took the orders, plated the food, put the food in the bag, took the money, gave you change.  Each person in line took about 3 to 5 minutes to serve, making it pretty easy to do the “how long is this going to take” math.  (Answer:  Never less than 30 minutes… even at 11:30am.)

It’s now almost two months later and they have improved a little bit.  The main guy still takes your order, and dishes out all the food, but they send you around to the window on the left hand side of the cart to pay and pick up your food from a different person.  They also have a wide selection of Jamaican patties, and if you just want a patty- you can go right to the side window.

It still takes a long time (5 people were ahead of me on Monday, and it took about 15 minutes), but it is a little more manageable now.  And it’s to be expected.  When I told my Jamaican co-worker about the cart, and how long it took- she was not surprised at all.  “Of course it takes a long time.  It’s Jamaicans.  They’re on Island Time!”

All in all, if you love Carribean food, and don’t mind waiting for it, The Jamaican Dutchy is a great place to eat.  Plus it’s got all the makings of a destination cart.  Buzz, unique food and of course- long lines.  Go now, before the word gets out to people outside of Midtown.

The + (What someone who likes this place will say)

  • Great Jamaican food at a decent price
  • The Stewed meats are fall off the bone tender
  • They’ve got dumplings!  I love dumplings…
  • They’ve got Jamaican patties!  I love Jamaican patties…
  • The only cart I’ve ever seen with a flat screen TV so you have something to do while you wait in line!

The – (What someone who doesn’t like this place will say)

  • Too slow!  I don’t care how good it is.  No food at a cart is worth waiting that much time for.
  • The food is heavy and greasy
  • I don’t like bones in meat! (The stewed meats have bones, and the jerk chicken is whole bone in pieces chopped up to order, so there’s little bones all through it- making it tougher to eat)
  • It’s expensive for what you get.  $10 to $12 for the two meat combo is too much to pay for food from a cart.
  • The jerk chicken is too spicy.

The Jamaican Dutchy, 51st btw. 6+7th.  (closer to 7th on the North side of the street)

40 Comments

  • ahhhh……..the jerk chicken is supposed to be very spicy, that’s what makes it so authentic

     

    I know… but some people don’t like spicy food. The (-) is the kind of things that people who don’t like the cart would say.  i.e. if you don’t like spicy food, you’ll say “The jerk chicken is too spicy”  -zach

  • Just want to thank you for your dedication to midtown lunch readers. Here you are, ordering the double meat, just to give us a better idea of the cart’s menu. Thanks for the sacrifice and keep up the good work.

  • jamaican food is generally bloody hot, as above said you cant ‘-’ it for being hot.its like saying indian food is too spicy.

    Btw, to many of them dumplings and you not be able to reach the keys ;)

     

    Sorry… I know the +/- can be confusing.  It’s not necessarily positive and negative things.  Different people like and dislike things for different reasons.  What is a negative for some is a positive for another.  The (-) is not supposed to be a negative-  it’s what people who don’t like the cart are going to say.  Not everybody is going to like Jamaican Cart.  One of the reasons is because it is spicy, and if you don’t like the spicy food, you are not going to like the Jerk Chicken.  The (-) is what people who don’t like it would say…  -zach

  • What is jamaican dumplings?

  • The Curry Goat is good. The Jerk Chicken is really good. The wait is long so the no wait beef patty is an attractive alternative.

    However the beef patties were disappointing. To me they were too soggy. i am no expert and nothing close to being Jamaican and the closest to having “authentic” Jamaican beef patties is at another Jamaican cart on 71st and York by the Hospital and their patties had a more flaky rather than soggy casing. Can any Jamaican foodies indicate how its really supposed to be served?

  • Poo– yeah..go to Golden Krust in midtown.
    They are on the east side (something like 3rd and 44?)
    Their patties are legend and they are very good. I believe the orginal Golden Krust is in Brooklyn.. I used beg my Brooklyn friends to bring a bunch whenever they could.
    There is a patty only line that moves so super quick (so the whole -relax -it -is Jamaican- garbage is boloney). I buy sacks of them and share. They are something like a buck and a quarter…or have they gone up in price?
    There is one in Grand Central Station, but if you walk a few blocks away they have a storefront and they are like half the price.
    Actually, I just found a linkie with a list of their locations:
    http://dev.villagevoice.com/nycguide/th1291,1.html
    Enjoy!

     

    I am actually a big Golden Krust fan and have been meaning to write about the one on 3rd Ave.  The patties they sell at Grand Central are definitely hiked up.  There is a Golden Krust opening on 8th Ave., next to Mandler’s for all the west siders…  more on that soon   -zach

  • Susan

    ‘Like’ is NOT an Adjective.

  • The food is fantastic, but the service is SLOOOOWWWWWWWWW. There is no hustle in these guys.

  • You were right on with everything — service is too slow and jerk chicken is too spicy, especially for American eaters. A better option is to offer different sauces — hot, sweet, or jerk.

  • also, while i was waiting on line, i was thinking “man these guys think theyre in Jamaica” where people have all day to chill out and dont worry and be happy

  • very good food.

  • You’re a big fan of Golden Crust – wow. that’s like the white castles for patties. If you find Golden Crust remotely good – I can’t imagine how the must taste. anything but authentic. this spot seems to be for business people who are tired of pizza or mickey D’s, tourist and people who would pay alot for a small portion of ‘ethnic’ food because it’s ‘different’. words of advice from some1 who is from the caribbean – check out Daphnes express – 233 east 14 st.
    peace n blessings…

  • I work in the building right next to this cart and waited ages to get lunch there because I can’t deal with long/slow lines. The last few months, the lines have been MUCH shorter/quicker, and I’ve been enjoying the break from the bad sandwiches generally available w/i a block or two radius hugely. The oxtail is fantastic, and really, I don’t know if it’s changed since early summer, but I’m a spicy heat wimp, and I don’t find the jerk chicken too hot at all. Just a nice warmth. Love the Dutchy!

  • Rudy,

    Kinda like you reminding me “ain’t” is not a word. Like, whatever.

    And by the way, for your trip to NY soon, we definitely don’t “queue” here, we don’t by any means call our sausages “bangers”, and absolutely noone here skips to the “loo”.

    Umm, like, Colloquialism.

  • Poo:
    Jamaican patties are meant to be a bit flaky and always very hot!!!

    Ikhee:
    Jamaicans in JA have jobs and work really hard at them. It’s insulting to think all we do in JA is chill out – it implies that we are lazy!

  • you always seems to find good stuff around, that helps me out alot when i am in the city. love your site , i wonder if the jamaican cart open on sundays :)

  • They are open on Saturdays now…

  • I had the jerk chicken w/rice & peas it is excellent! Thank you for the change of pace.

  • This is one of the best blogs ever. Taking the guess-work out of eating in midtown can really help save some money.
    I’m not sure where you’ve had Jamaican food that doesn’t have bones in the stews/curries :) I’ve never had goat (carribean, indian, or otherwise) that didn’t have bones.

    I finally made my way to the Jamaican Dutchy. This exceeded my expectations, though, I spent close to $20 because I had to try a bit of everything. The curried goat and jerk chicken are great. The beef patties are great too, much better than the frozen ones you get at the supermarket or your typical fast food spot. I need to go back and try the oxtails next.

  • At what time does the jamaican dutchy close?

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