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A Cuban sandwich on a counter in a restaurant kitchen, served in a plastic black basket and covered with lots of mustard
The Cuban sandwich at El Oriental de Cuba in Jamaica Plain
El Oriental de Cuba [official photo]

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Jamaica Plain’s Centre Street Is a Caribbean Feast

Get ready to drink lots of fresh juices and eat lots of pig ears on this food crawl

Welcome back to Food Crawls, a series in which Eater Boston staffers guide you (virtually) on various food (and booze) crawls in the Boston area.

When we go out, we often find ourselves wanting to try more than one restaurant or bar at a time — a drink and a snack here, another drink and perhaps a dessert there — and want to share our favorite multi-stop combinations with you. These crawls are meant to be relatively walkable, and the amount of food and drink is meant to correspond roughly to a couple of average appetites (so bring a friend), although your mileage may vary. Email us if there’s a particular theme, specific dish or drink, or neighborhood you’d like to see covered in a future installment.


An eater can tour the world in Jamaica Plain. From haggis to cured Spanish ham to excellent Mexican street food, the neighborhood is a cornucopia of culinary and cultural variety. One part of the world’s cuisine that’s particularly well-represented in JP is Caribbean food, especially from Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Grab some friends, head over to Centre Street, and eat some delicious pig ears.

Stats for this food crawl:

  • Total stops: 4
  • Streets travelled upon: Just the one
  • Glasses of fresh juice guzzled: At least two (each spot on this crawl offers some form of fresh juice)
  • Pig parts consumed: At least one, but more if the eater is open to snacking on ears
  • Daydreams of eating roadside chicken on a Caribbean beach: These won’t cease, so let’s call it one day-long daydream of eating roadside chicken on a Caribbean beach

Croquetas de Jamón at the Old Havana

349 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

old havana JP
Old Havana is doing some damn good Cuban food in JP
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The first stop on this crawl is the Old Havana, which means the first thing we’re eating is croquetas de jamón (or, ham croquettes). These are crispy and salty and silky, and they are very good when paired with a crisp, sugary Coca-Cola.

Rotisserie Chicken and Plantains at Alex’s Chimis

358 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

alex’s chimis JP
Get the chicken. And the pig ears. And the pig skin. Get everything.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Exit the Old Havana, cross Centre Street, and enter Alex’s Chimis. The chimi de pierna (roasted pork burger) is exceptional; the chicharron is as good as it gets in Boston; the orejita (pig ears) is worth any adventurous eater’s time. Get the rotisserie chicken, and get it with fried green plantains and rice with peas. If there are more than two of you, get two rotisserie chickens. We believe in you.

Seafood Fiesta Empanada at Pikalo

378 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

pikalo JP
Have an empanada, then go to the Behan for a drink
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Pikalo has a vast menu of Caribbean fusion — the Classico Dominicano, which is a sandwich packed with ham, Dominican cheese, tomato, onion, ketchup, and mayo, is indulgent and a great option if it’s the only thing you plan to eat for the day — but the restaurant is most well-known for its empanadas. Grab the Seafood Fiesta, which is filled with shrimp, lobster, crab, and conch.

Cuban Sandwich at El Oriental de Cuba

416 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

el oriental de cuba JP
This crawl wouldn’t be complete without a Cuban sandwich
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

It would be a big miss if we stopped by two Cuban restaurants and didn’t get at least one Cuban sandwich. Fortunately, El Oriental de Cuba has got the goods. The exterior is crispy, and the interior is filled with savory pork dressed with a gooey amalgamation of Swiss cheese and mustard. Split with a friend, it’s the perfect last bite for this quick crawl through the Greater Antilles.

Pikalo

378 Centre Street, , MA 02130 (617) 522-1210

Alex's Chimis

358 Centre Street, , MA 02130 (617) 522-5201 Visit Website

The Old Havana

349 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, Boston MA (617) 477-4248 Visit Website

El Oriental De Cuba

416 Centre Street, , MA 02130 (617) 524-6464 Visit Website

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