Jamaican Meat Patties Meet Their Match: A Cold Beer and Sweet Mango Hot Sauce
The night-time sound track at Patty Boom Boom is so intense, I feel it in my chest before I walk through the door. An infectious bass drop punctuated by a strumming, up-beat three chord guitar is a constant, and while Toots and the Maytals sing love is gonna let me down, I know one thing that won’t — the meat patties here.
The front counter take-out is good for plenty more than a late-night bite. The Jamaican pastries are substantial and stick to your ribs. One makes a decent lunch; two will keep you fueled for the day.
I spent a week in Jamaica last summer, touring most of the island and exploring its cuisine, and between sweat-inducing meals of roadside jerk chicken, breadfruit, and festival, I downed countless golden yellow patties. Chef James Claudio from nearby Marvin handles the island pastries at PBB, and he does a decent job of maintaining authenticity while modernizing and refining a traditional recipe.
My favorite is pimento chicken, the spiciest of PBB’s offerings, which boasts a filling spiked with scotch bonnet and cherry peppers, onions, garlic, and nutmeg. My second choice is a spicy beef filling comprised of loose ground meat flavored lightly with curry. If you’re not a hot head, the jerk chicken rendition is surprisingly mild, and those feeling less than carnivorous can tear into the Caribbean vegetable version.
The patties I tried a few months ago were drier than I’d like — a problem that turned me into a cotton-mouthed mute as I stumbled around U Street eating— but lately I’ve encountered considerably less chalky renditions. If the recipes haven’t changed, maybe it’s the dining approach I’ve honed over my last few visits.
To get the most enjoyment from my meat patty, I supplement each order with a tall can of Red Stripe lager and a plastic container of sweet mango hot sauce. Then I oscillate between dips, bites, and sips. The mango hot sauce is bright and acidic, with a forward sweetness that cuts its own heat and the Red Stripe reminds me of simple beach-side meals I had on the island. Picking at the crumbs left in an empty paper wrapper, I’m definitely smiling — a return trip to funky funky Kingston on my mind.