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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thing 134: Sweet Mango Cafe

In my very first blog post, I wrote:

I am continually fascinated by this city -- its colonial, racial, and federal history, its jumble of cultures in such a very small space, its big city opportunities and small town realities. Its obsession with politics. Its free museums. Its stunningly high HIV rate. The vaulted ceilings of the metro and the cheap seats at RFK and the fantastic Jamaican food in Petworth -- I love learning about this district.
Emphasis added because...drum roll please...I am finally blogging about the fantastic Jamaican food in Petworth. Namely, Sweet Mango Cafe (fyi, that link also plays reggae).

Sweet Mango Cafe Jerk Chicken
I love Sweet Mango. I used to live in north Petworth, on Gallatin, and I used to get off the metro at Georgia Ave on my home from work, pop into Sweet Mango to order takeout, then hop on the bus to finish my commute. Once home, I would enjoy spicy, hot jerked chicken, smokey, fatty curried goat or sometimes spiced fried snapper, all with a generous heap of rice and peas (which is rice with red beans, not what Americans would think of as 'peas') and a scoop of boiled veggies. I'd often get a side of fried plantains or coco bread or a Jamaican beef patty.

Or in the summertime, when the weather was warm and heavy, I'd take advantage of their fabulous rooftop patio and adjacent bar to eat jerk chicken and savor a cold Red Stripe.

But then, alas, I moved to Logan Circle, and while vowing to continue my patronage of Sweet Mango, I haven't been back since. So I was thrilled when I threw it out as a lunchtime destination after a morning of looking at hairballs and war wounds and everyone agreed.

I love Sweet Mango's curried goat, but then at the last minute I was talked into trying something I've never eaten before, ever. I went for the daily special, which was ackee and saltfish with dumplings, yam and banana. I was told by one of my lunch companions that ackee and saltfish is a breakfast staple in Jamaica. He'd eaten it before, mistaking the ackee for scrambled eggs (they look similar but taste quite different). What is ackee? It's a fruit, that when cooked becomes soft and yellow and only mildly sweet. Uncooked, it makes you vomit a lot. But I ordered it anyway! And mixed with the saltfish it was salty and soft and light and altogether a delicious lunch. The yam turned out to be yucca (that beans/peas phenomenon at work), and the dumplings were doughy and really dense -- not my favorite thing on the plate. But I love trying new foods, especially ones I turn out to really like!

Sweet Mango Cafe Ackee and Saltfish
Others I ate with got either jerked or curried chicken and we all ate heartily (medical oddities work up the appetite, apparently). While we were eating, a long line formed as people placed their lunch orders.

What a treat to hit up one of my old favorites. When the weather warms back up (when? when will that be?!), you'll find me on their roof deck eating curried goat and oxtail, I promise.

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Anonymous said...

Twitter link:

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but I ALSO used to live on Gallatin St! How funny is that?? I've never been to Sweet Mango Cafe, however, so I'll have to venture back up that way and check it out!