Boston is a melting-pot city, one that is rich with cultural diversity thanks to its many immigrant communities, including those communities composed of people from the African diaspora. And the city’s dining scene reflects that fact: Diners can find excellent Cape Verdean food in Dorchester; West African, East African, North African, and Black American soul food in Roxbury; Jamaican fare in Mattapan and Jamaica Plain; and Haitian food in Hyde Park. And that’s just for starters.
While Boston may be known for its clam “chowdah” and its baked beans, there are many other noteworthy cultural dishes, like cachupa or ackee and saltfish, to be eaten at gems throughout the city.
These cold winter months — when outdoor dining has tapered off, hibernation has set in, and small local restaurants are opting for takeout-only operations — present the perfect opportunity to eat the various cuisines of the African diaspora represented in Boston’s restaurant industry. Here is a sampling of Boston restaurants of the African diaspora offering takeout and delivery options.
Blue Mountain Jamaican Restaurant
884 Morton St., Mattapan, Boston, MA 02126; 617-533-7255
Enjoy traditional flavors of Jamaica at Blue Mountain Jamaican Restaurant in Mattapan, whose name is inspired by the longest mountain range in Jamaica. Open for about a year and a half, this restaurant already has a reputation as having some of Boston’s best Jamaican food.
The ackee and saltfish — Jamaica’s national dish — is a must try, and a popular breakfast item at Blue Mountain. The lunch and dinner offerings are vast, and you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Fair warning: Things can get rather spicy at Blue Mountain, and your meal selection will depend on your tolerance for heat. The spice-averse should try the stewed chicken, a slow-cooked, savory chicken dish with a touch of sweetness. For a kick of heat, try the Rasta Pasta and the sweet and spicy chicken. The jerk chicken at Blue Mountain has just the right amount of spice without overwhelming the senses. And if the spice does prove overwhelming, grab a bottle of Tropical Rhythms from Grace Foods (a popular line of juice drinks) or a slice of carrot cake to soothe your palate.
Most plates at Blue Mountain come with a variety of side options like sweet plantains or rice and peas, all of which are meticulously consistent. You may notice that the peas are actually red kidney beans — don’t question it.
The food at Blue Mountain is as affordable as it is delicious. An eater can get in and out spending less than $20. And it’s as good a spot for a quick snack as it is for a full meal: The beef patties and coco bread never fail to hit the spot. Plus, the combination of soft, sweet coco bread and a flaky, slightly spicy beef patty is the definition of *chef’s kiss.*
Farah’s Cafe Restaurant
1158 River St., Hyde Park, Boston, MA 02136; 617-910-3203
According to data from the United States Census Bureau, Massachusetts has the third-largest Haitian community in the nation. In Boston, this population is concentrated in Mattapan, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Hyde Park. So it makes sense that Boston would have some standout Haitian restaurants, and that Hyde Park would be a prime destination for them.
Griot is a fried pork dish typical of Haitian kitchens, and it’s usually best when prepared by a grandma. But Farah’s Cafe Restaurant does a great version, too. Located right on River Street in the heart of Hyde Park, Farah’s is one of many Haitian restaurants in the city, and a favorite of locals in the neighborhood.
When you walk through the threshold at Farah’s Cafe Restaurant, you are greeted by decor inspired by the tropics, the sounds of Haitian Creole music, and the smells of traditional food from the island. Be sure to order some fritay, an assortment of fried foods like plantains, sweet potatoes, and malanga (taro) that can be eaten as a snack or paired with meat and rice to make a full meal. These Haitian street foods are often served with Creole sauce and a spicy pickled slaw called pikliz. Never forget to order the pikliz.
Farah’s Cafe is open for takeout and delivery directly through the restaurant. Call 617-910-3203 to place an order.
Down Home Delivery & Catering
2 Bowdoin St., Dorchester, Boston, MA 02124; 617-288-0813
Find flavorful soul food at Down Home Delivery & Catering, located in the heart of Dorchester’s Four Corners neighborhood. Soul food blends Southern and African influences, and recipes have been passed down from generation to generation in many Black American families. The staples of soul food include dishes like fried chicken, mac and cheese, and sweets such as homemade peach cobbler and chocolate cake. Down Home has all these covered and then some.
Start with the jumbo fried chicken wing entree. Like all entrees at Down Home, it’s served with a choice of two sides and a corn muffin. Of course, picking two sides can be a challenge here; everything at Down Home is exceptional, especially sides like collard greens seasoned with smoked turkey, classic mac and cheese, and sweet candied yams. Life-changing things happen when the juices from the candied yams touch the mac and cheese. The potato salad is also a popular selection at Down Home, and it just may be as good as the version your favorite aunt makes.
Down Home is open for takeout and delivery, available directly through the restaurant by calling 617-288-0813, or via Uber Eats.
66 Bowdoin St., Dorchester, Boston, MA 02122; 617-282-1998
Cape Verde is a country located off the coast of West Africa, and Boston is an excellent place to learn more about this archipelago’s rich culinary history. According to the 2012-2016 American Community Survey, Massachusetts has the highest population of Cape Verdean immigrants of any U.S. state, with Boston home to the state’s second-largest community after New Bedford. Restaurants serving traditional Cape Verdean cuisine can be found throughout Greater Boston, and Restaurante Cesaria in Dorchester stands out as one of the best.
The restaurant offers many dishes for takeout, but before the pandemic it was best known as a gathering spot that regularly hosted live music in its beautiful, recently renovated dining room. So keep this spot on your radar for a night out once things are safer.
Now for the food. Because it’s located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, seafood is essential to — and the pride and joy of — Cape Verdean cuisine. As such, Cesaria’s menu is full of fish. Baked fish, fried fish, grilled fish, blackened fish, fish soup, fish with rice, fish and vegetables. It’s a seafood lover’s paradise.
Even for those who aren’t fish fans, there are countless other dishes on the menu to fall in love with, like the canja (pronounced cahn-juh) soup. This chicken and rice soup is thick, filling, and offered in small and large sizes.
Likewise, one can’t discuss Cape Verdean food without mentioning cachupa (or katchupa, as stylized on Cesaria’s menu), a hearty stew made with corn and beans and filled with vegetables and, typically, pork or beef. Many consider it to be the national dish of Cape Verde, and it’s a must-order at Cesaria.