Surprisingly Good Jerk Chicken Is One Secret Within Corte Cafe

There are many delis and other eateries that I’ve walked by many times but never bothered to step inside. That’s usually OK, but sometimes you find a gem that you would never tell existed from the outside. Corte Cafe at the corner of Lafayette and Duane streets is such a place, advertising only “international foods” on its awning. A step inside shows the usual salads and sandwiches, but you can also get fried chicken, a torta or a variety of Caribbean food. It was the latter that piqued my interest since the area around City Hall is lacking in the food of the islands.

They have a pretty wide selection of the standard Jamaican/Trinidadian fare on a steam table including oxtail, stew or jerk chicken, and fried whiting. You can choose from three kinds of rice, and sides including stewed cabbage and fried plantains. There are two sizes – small or large – ranging in price between $5 and $9. I opted for a large jerk chicken with peas and rice and plantains ($7.75).

I asked for dark meat chicken but the leg I was given was mostly white meat. It didn’t really matter because it was still moist and flavorful, with a strong taste of cloves and allspice. Definitely ask for some of the sauce to be poured over your meal from whatever protein you choose because otherwise the rice and peas are pretty dull. The plantains were surprisingly fresh although maybe not as caramelized as I’ve had at other places. Still, for a generic deli I was surprised by how tasty my meal was and the price was right.

If you have a craving for some Caribbean food while working or stuck on jury duty near City Hall, Corte Cafe is a solid option.

Corte Cafe, 2 Lafayette St. (at Duane), (212) 766-3200


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