A World of Flavor
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 12:02
Sweet Mango Cafe | 3701 New Hampshire Ave. NW
When it comes to channelling the Caribbean, 876 Cafe knows what it’s doing. Nestled a few blocks from American University, the restaurant doesn’t waste time with pretentious menus and over-the-top decor.
There’s a festively tropical rum bar and plenty of Caribbean-themed art to channel the native home of the chefs, who are all from Mantego Bay. The cafe was relatively empty in the post-lunch, pre-dinner hours, which gave the waiter ample time to demonstrate the exceptional service: he brought a space heater to ward away any residual cold and even brought us the chef’s soup — a broth with chicken, broccoli and pepper — on the house. For only $1.50, we received a generous serving of steaming, sweet coco bread that paired excellently with the soup.
Deciding upon entrees proved to be a more difficult task. We settled upon a spicy chicken BLT and a jerk chicken wrap that came, in true Caribbean fashion, complete with plantain, or the jerk shrimp. The latter was made with tangy pineapple to complement the spicy meat.
But in the battle of the chickens, the sandwich easily stole the show. With crisp bacon, fresh tomatoes and enough avocado to satisfy any guac fan, the BLT featured tender chicken on more of the same coco bread. With its native chefs and occasional faux palm tree strategically placed between tables, offers a menu that is delectable and an inexpensive opportunity to sample more exotic fare.
876 Cafe | 4221-B Connecticut Ave. NW
For those foodies who don’t settle for anything less than an authentic cultural experience, Sweet Mango Cafe presents the ultimate destination. It boasts a food assembly line reminiscent of Chipotle, but here you get to make the snap decision between choosing things like ox tail or jerk chicken. We decided upon the reasonably priced latter, which came hot and fresh in a Styrofoam container with spiced rice, beans and juicy cabbage.
The jerk rub was a succulently spicy highlight and the chicken was tender and juicy. Be sure to get some of their warm coco bread to go, and sample some of their refreshing coconut water — definitely and acquired taste —to offset the hotness of the meal.