ISLANDS in the City

Add bright flavors and fragrant spice to your urban adventures


Expect warming, comforting and plentiful food at Spices Caribbean Restaurant in Arlington.

When dinner calls and you’d like something besides the menu at your favorite hangout, check out the selection at Spices. Despite the excess of seating, it’s mostly a takeout spot. You may stand in line to order; we used the time to plan our attack.

Most of the entrées are in two sizes: regular ($9.99) or jumbo ($13.99). The difference? The number of sides you can get. You’ve got several options, but here’s my recommendation: rice and beans, cabbage and plantains. There’s nothing more Caribbean than “rice and peas” and it’s your responsibility to order it. Cabbage at Caribbean restaurants seems to be the best-kept secret; they really know how to prepare it. Last, but definitely not least, the plantains! At Spices, they’re prepared exactly how plantains should be: golden-browned outside, caramelizing slightly to a crisp outer finish.

As soon as your number’s called, dash to the counter. Before you grab and go, however, allow them to show off the goods and nod in approval–no misorders here.

We were lemmings and decided to eat at home–hey, all the cool kids were doing it! We grabbed plates as soon as we got home, cracking open the Styrofoam containers, releasing the fragrant, meaty scents of goat, chicken and oxtail … as it tends to do, the aromatic goat overpowered the rest.

Our meats–oxtail, chicken and goat–were all tender and packed with flavor. Oxtail, tender as can be, has a rich brown sauce, the perfect addition to the rice and beans on the side. Bone-in jerk chicken meets all heat expectations. The rice is slightly sweet, which compliments the fiery jerk seasoning on the chicken. Curry goat a delicious choice–the sauce tastes like a mix of the brown sauce with a curry finish; large chunks of potatoes add to the saucy, meaty goodness. I highly recommend it for those few of you new to goat. Simply beware of the bones in the chunks of tender deliciousness.

Don’t forget a beverage. The ice-cold punch will keep you company while you wait for your order. I was desperately sad when I learned they were out of the Stamina Drink ($4.25), which promises a heady slug of bedroom bully (upon further research, this is an herbal supplement meant for the bedroom) and tiger bone (an herbal wine). I settled for the homemade fruit punch. The bright pink beverage is yours for $1.65 (medium), and let me tell you: You can share this startlingly sweet and fruity drink. With hints of pineapple and ginger, it definitely soothes your flaming tongue after the smoldering jerk chicken. And do consider dessert, say, maybe, a slice of moist cake like carrot or red velvet ($2.45).

Even on a weekday evening, you can enjoy a taste of the Caribbean.

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