Jamaican food is one of my favorite kinds of food. For many years, I was loyal to the Golden Krust location in East Orlando, and that’s because it is awesome. But when I started branching out, I discovered Mark’s Jamaican Bar & Grill last year, and that was pretty good too (even if they left the roti I paid for out of my order; I have a long memory). My most recent Jamaican discovery is Caribbean Sunshine Bakery, a restaurant with two locations in west Orlando and one in Winter Garden. I have paid two visits to the location on West Colonial Drive and John Young Parkway.
I was surprised to see they had multiple small restaurants on the inside: the Jamaican place (the main attraction) taking up the left side of the space, and small soul food and Haitian restaurants off to the right, along with a T-shirt shop. I went straight to the thatched hut to place my order, then waited for it along the left side, so I didn’t get to check out the menus of the Soul Food Cafe or the Haitian restaurant.
But since the website listed on the door and the website listed on the paper menu are different, and neither work, I took the liberty of scanning the paper menu:
I always love spicy beef patties, but that’s what I almost always get. I even have a frozen Golden Krust spicy beef patty in my freezer right now! So when I saw Caribbean Sunshine Bakery offered a salt fish patty ($2.35), I had to try that. First I asked for an ackee and salt fish patty, to represent the national dish of Jamaica, but they were sold out of those. I’m glad they still had regular salt fish patties available when I got there in the afternoon, since that is traditionally a Jamaican breakfast dish. Because Caribbean Sunshine is a bakery, I decided to get my patty wrapped in coco bread ($1 additional) to try their version of the soft, fluffy bread. Carbs on carbs!
The crispy golden patty had a nice flakiness and tasted very fresh. The fish inside was suitably salty, surprisingly smoky, and seasoned well with some red pepper — maybe pimiento? It wasn’t spicy, for those who fear Jamaican food might be too spicy for them. This sandwich, laden with carbs, salt, and grease, had a nice blend of textures, and everything was fresh and delicious. Salt fish patties, where have you been all my life?
This is the large oxtail meal ($11.95), served over rice and peas with steamed cabbage, sweet fried plantains, and a round fried dumpling with the very festive moniker of festival. Oxtail and maduros are two of my favorite foods in the entire world, together or separately, and these were awesome. I wish I could cook rice and peas and cabbage like this! The rice has the slightest coconutty flavor, and I wish I could duplicate the magical recipe that most Jamaican restaurants use at home.
I almost never order jerk chicken, but I don’t know why that is, because I feel more comfortable eating meat when I know the animal had been a jerk. Also, I usually prefer brown stew chicken, but I asked the friendly woman at the counter which one of the two she recommended, and she said to go with the jerk. I didn’t want to be a jerk after asking for her recommendation, so I went for it. This was another large meal ($11.95), and it was great. I forgot to specify I always prefer dark meat chicken, so I was disappointed to see breast meat when I got it home. But even though some restaurants overcook their white meat chicken, this was very moist, tender, juicy, and full of incredible flavor. The jerk seasoning had a little bite, but wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy at all. I loved it.
I returned to Caribbean Sunshine about a month back, to pick up lunch for myself and three co-workers. One woman ordered the jerk chicken I enjoyed so much last time, and two others ordered the brown stew chicken. This was a small brown stew chicken meal ($9.75), with rice and peas, cabbage, and festival:I traded a piece of my jerk pork for a piece of her brown stew chicken, and all three of us who tried it agreed how good it was.
Oh yeah, the jerk pork! I ordered a small meal ($10.85) and really liked it. There were a few large bone fragments to pick out, but the meat was so tender, it was easy to pull the bones out cleanly, with no shreds of meat sticking to them. Never mind the chicken wing on top of the cabbage in the picture above — you won’t get that in a jerk pork meal unless you trade some food with your friend.
I had to get another salt fish patty on this takeout trip, but this time I also tried my old standard, the spicy beef patty ($2.35). These are much larger patties than you get at other Jamaican restaurants, convenience stores, and random Cuban restaurants and pizzerias. You can tell they are made fresh here at Caribbean Sunshine Bakery. After taking this first taste, I ended up eating the patties the next day. They were still nice and flaky after a quick trip through the microwave. (Not at work; I don’t microwave fish at work because I am not a sociopath.) The salt fish was nice and smoky like last time, and the beef patty was quite spicy, which was what I hoped for. It made my tongue tingle for a while afterwards!
I really love Jamaican and Caribbean food, and I’m glad to discover new restaurants around Orlando all the time. If you haven’t been to Caribbean Sunshine Bakery, definitely make a special trip to one of the three locations some time. The West Colonial one is directly across the street from Lotte Plaza Market, the sprawling Asian supermarket that houses another one of my favorite restaurants in its food court, the Filipino-American fusion restaurant Taglish. That whole stretch of West Colonial Drive has some of Orlando’s best Caribbean and Asian grocery shopping and dining options, so don’t sleep on it, even though it isn’t a toney or touristy part of town. You’ll be missing out on some real shining gems, like Caribbean Sunshine.