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London’s best Caribbean jerk: People’s Choice Caribbean restaurant on Chatsworth Road in Hackney Riaz Phillips/Eater London

Where to Find London’s Best Jamaican Jerk

Whether cooked in the traditional steel drum or ingeniously translated to the oven, here’s where to find the city’s best jerk chicken, pork, or lamb

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While saltfish and ackee is the national dish of Jamaica, it’s easy to think otherwise, given the popularity of jerk meat — especially jerk chicken — across Jamaica and its diaspora in the U.K. and North America. Classically cooked in outdoor pits and steel barrel drums, many feel that the oven-cooked jerk meats increasingly common to London restaurants simply aren’t the real deal. Across the city, however, a few enterprising individuals have endeavoured to innovate ways of cooking up jerk. Arguments about where to get the best jerk chicken almost mirror the ferocity of football supporters in any given part of London: proud residents will, without doubt, say that their local is the best. Here’s a handpicked selection from all corners of the capital, to help out with an unbiased choice.

London’s restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars reopened for indoor service from 17 May, with the rule of six in place. Customers can check with individual venues to determine their availability and Covid-secure measures before deciding to visit.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Drums & Flats (Wembley)

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18 Olympic Way, Wembley Park, BOXPARK
Wembley HA9 0JT, UK

With its Peckham original closed, Drums and Flats — named after the chicken wing parts — has alighted at Wembley’s Boxpark for the foreseeable future. The duo behind it spent years perfecting their recipes, one of which includes their fried jerk chicken, coated in homemade seasoning and beautifully decorated with scallions. Worth the journey.

2. The Wright Jerk Centre

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1 Monks Park
Wembley HA9 6JD, UK
020 8902 0006

Situated just off the A406 Motorway junction at Wembley, the hungry with a car have no excuse not to take a foray to The Wright Jerk Centre. The frequent sight of motorbike crews outside the shop with bikes perfectly lined in formation let people know there are many others who savour the road trip to this far reach of London too. For perspective, there are only two seats inside. More space has rightfully been allocated to the wall-to-wall grills billowing smoke up metal chimneys frequently being plastered with cuts of chicken and a very rare addition of lamb rather than pork. With this base chosen or combined, the variations of cuts, sides and additions are in the multiple dozens, all ready to be eaten on the ride home.

3. Jay Dee's Catering

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28 Lancaster Rd, Notting Hill
London W11 1QP, UK

Stretching from Westbourne Park to Latimer Road and hovering just north of the illustrious Notting Hill, Jay Dees sits in a locale that straddles a wide social spectrum, and manages to cater for all. Hailing from an era where the Red, Gold and Green, soundsystem speakers and jerk drums would have been a common sight in the area, the sizeable takeout feels like one of the last links to an era gone. While the shop has a host of recognisable options from small cups of daily soup to specials such as curry mutton and fried chicken, with the optics of a jerk drum rooted outside.

4. The Jerk Drum - Jamaican Bbq

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Berwick St, Soho
Market W1F 0PJ, UK

Located in the heart of London in Soho’s weekday food market, Jerk Drum street food stall served shoppers, tourists and nearby office workers alike who would otherwise be hard pressed to find anything even remotely similar for literally miles. Now with central London reduced to a patter of the previous footfall, Jerk Drum has built up enough of a reputation to sustain. Having done his jerk apprentice with George’s in Croydon (see above) it’s easy to see and taste why the flavour here is almost pandemic proof. While boneless curry goat and the vegan Ital curry pot all make completely valid asides, for all jerk needs look no further than the “Mega Mix Box” combining a smoky jerk pork and sweet jerk chicken mash up.

5. George’s First Jerk Catering @ Surrey Street Market

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Surrey St
Croydon CR0 1RG, UK

Everyday is like a lottery at George’s First Jerk Catering, located on Croydon’s Surrey Street market. He doesn’t do jerk chicken everyday, but on the days he does, Croydon’s locals and visitors count themselves fortunate, with hungry office workers not around for now. There’s no kitchen backing the stall, so as Glen likes so tout, “once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

London’s best Caribbean street food jerk: George’s First Jerk Catering at Surrey Street Market in Croydon Riaz Phillips/Eater London

6. Blessed West Indian Takeaway

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203 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton
London SW9 8RZ, UK

For local reggae legend King Atarney, music and food go hand in hand. Swooning reggae tunes — including some of his own — usually provide the sounds inside Blessed. Often cooking alongside his son on their wide furnace, turning chicken and taming flames with a water squirter, all of Atarney’s meals should be accompanied by his son’s all-purpose jerk seasoning sauce, also known as ‘Lightning Blessed!’ The title alone lets would-be eaters know what they are in for.

London’s best Caribbean jerk: Blessed West Indian Takeaway restaurant in Brixton Riaz Phillips/Eater London

7. Ossie's Jerk Chicken

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209 Walworth Rd
London SE17 1RL, UK
020 7998 4896

For anyone craving jerk in the wee hours of the day, when most others are tucked away in bed, Ossie’s still cranks out the goods. The £3 ‘chicken and chips’ is a favourite for worldly youngsters seeking an alternative to the scores of chicken shops lining the local high street, a takeaway institution in the area.

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8. Tasty Jerk

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88 Whitehorse Ln
London SE25 6RQ, UK
020 8653 3222

Come a Crystal Palace home football game, hundreds of fans — both home and away — pass through Tasty Jerk for an alternative to bang average stadium grub. With the shop lined with jerk drums, it almost seems to have created a Ford-esque conveyor belt, built to whip out as much perfect jerk as humanly possible come Saturday or Sunday. There might be no fans and no games right now, but the production line rumbles on.

9. Pepper & Spice Restaurant London

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40 Balls Pond Rd, Dalston
London N1 4AU, UK

One of the few places on this list that doesn’t use a steel drum or pit replica of some sort, but still gets it spot on. Few places also manage to get the entire multitude of Caribbean offerings, but that’s why Peppers & Spice has existed for over two decades. Head chef Tex has perfected his oven technique for jerking meat, wet-seasoning choice cuts before roasting in large ovens for the locals to take home.
 

Also at: 541 High Road, London N17 6SD

London’s best Caribbean jerk: Pepper & Spice restaurant in Dalston Riaz Phillips/Eater London

10. JB's Soul Food

Copy Link
27A Peckham High St
London SE15 5EB, UK
07980 940001

Whilst relatively new compared to some other Caribbean spots in Peckham, this restaurant flies the colours of the Jamaican flag high for all too see. Owner Bill can sometimes be seen to the side of the shop, cooking up jerk chicken in a steel drum he made himself. On the weekend, his jerk pork makes a special appearance, with many lamenting that the shop doesn’t sell it every day. For Caribbean food novices, the shop’s mini meals that range from £2.50 — £3.50 are a fine starting point to take away right now.

London’s best Caribbean jerk: JB’s Soul Food & Jerk Chicken restaurant on Peckham High Street Riaz Phillips/Eater London

11. Rainbow Cookout

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Walled Garden Walk
London E8 1JB, UK

Otis Wright’s Jamaican jerk chicken stand in the front yard of St. Augustine’s Tower, off Mare Street in Hackney Central, is responsible for some of east London’s best street food. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Wednesday to Sunday (subject to change), one of Wright’s lesser-known menu items is the £5 jerk chicken sandwich. He debones a freshly grilled leg of chicken, rose-coloured from marination and smoke, adds some cabbage, carrots, onions, and a touch of gravy. Customers add their own hot sauce and/or mayonnaise.

12. Smokey Jerkey

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158 New Cross Rd
London SE14 5BA, UK

Unlike most Caribbean takeouts that attempt to sell the entire catalogue of island favourites, Smokey Jerkey is a real rarity: it has focussed on selling nothing but jerk lamb, chicken and pork for the last decade. Cooked on owner Louie’s self-designed furnace that burns on hickory wood, there’s a smoked profile not found on most jerk on the capital. Be careful of the seeming tomato ketchup on the counter: it’s actually a house scorpion pepper sauce. Not for the faint-hearted.

London’s best Caribbean jerk: Smokey Jerkey restaurant on New Cross Road Riaz Phillips/London

13. People's Choice Caribbean

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51B Chatsworth Rd
London E5 0LH, UK
020 7000 0000

Just off Hackney’s Chatsworth road, expect to see proprietor Lenny drifting in and out of his shop, tending to his jerk drum sitting out front throughout the early hours of the day. His slow process of jerking hefty pieces of meat has proved an instant favourite in the area, and that hasn’t changed through recent months.

London’s best Caribbean jerk: People’s Choice Caribbean restaurant on Chatsworth Road in Hackney Riaz Phillips/Eater London

14. Jerk Garden

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164 Sydenham Rd
London SE26 5JZ, UK
020 8659 4686

No-one is ever too far from a Jerk Garden in south London, whichever pocket they reside in. While the mainstream culinary attention in the area is reserved for Clapham and Brixton, with areas like Peckham and Camberwell slowly being broached by critics fearful of being stabbed, the deeper London enclaves further south rarely get a look in. Jerk Garden however, has for long been a champion for these ends. It shys away from the regular optics of a Jamaican jerk outpost in favour of white sleek interiors, plant pots and astro turf flooring, all befitting the garden moniker, which makes visiting the shop a refreshing experience. But while Jerk Garden looks to reinvent the Jamaican eating space, make no mistake: it’s not trying to reinvent Jerk chicken. With ten other options and variants of jerk from salads to coco bread sandwiches and dinner boxes, the advice is to arrive as hungry as possible for something to take away.
Also at:
59 Beckenham Rd, Beckenham, BR3 4PR

394 Brockley Rd, Brockley, London SE4 2BY

15. Mamas Jerk

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133 Deptford High St
London SE8 4NS, UK

Mama’s Jerk opened in 2009, celebrating the legacy of owner Adrian’s great grandmother Mama Charlotte, and her secret jerk barbecue sauce recipe. Located in several spots across London, Mama’s Jerk continues to innovate with its sweet and tangy sauce, dousing novel fish cakes, veggie bean cake wraps, and a fresh salad chicken wrap that takes the rainbow as inspiration. All available for delivery and takeaway.


Also at: Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road SW9 8PQ

London’s best Caribbean jerk: Mama’s Jerk restaurant in Deptford Mama’s Jerk [Official Photo]

16. Rhythm Kitchen E17

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257 Hoe St, Walthamstow
London E17 9PT, UK

Delroy Dixon, a.k.a. “The Jerk Father,” has been on a mission to illuminate the full breadth of the Caribbeans’ beauty to the UK through the vehicle of food and drink for the last decade. Via the open kitchen of the Stratford Westfield mall outpost and the sleek Walthamstow restaurant which hosted a legendary series of Caribbean rum nights that will hopefully return one day, the jerk options of pork and chicken have been winners from day one and are just as good in the takeaway only world. Left to marinate for 24 hours in a family concoction of herbs and spices before being finished on the grill then caressed with the gravy of marination, the experience will make first-timers question their previous jerk chicken experiences. All are served with options of white rice, rice and peas or even Trinidad Roti sourced from the nearby powerhouse of Horizon foods.

1. Drums & Flats (Wembley)

18 Olympic Way, Wembley Park, BOXPARK, Wembley HA9 0JT, UK

With its Peckham original closed, Drums and Flats — named after the chicken wing parts — has alighted at Wembley’s Boxpark for the foreseeable future. The duo behind it spent years perfecting their recipes, one of which includes their fried jerk chicken, coated in homemade seasoning and beautifully decorated with scallions. Worth the journey.

18 Olympic Way, Wembley Park, BOXPARK
Wembley HA9 0JT, UK

2. The Wright Jerk Centre

1 Monks Park, Wembley HA9 6JD, UK

Situated just off the A406 Motorway junction at Wembley, the hungry with a car have no excuse not to take a foray to The Wright Jerk Centre. The frequent sight of motorbike crews outside the shop with bikes perfectly lined in formation let people know there are many others who savour the road trip to this far reach of London too. For perspective, there are only two seats inside. More space has rightfully been allocated to the wall-to-wall grills billowing smoke up metal chimneys frequently being plastered with cuts of chicken and a very rare addition of lamb rather than pork. With this base chosen or combined, the variations of cuts, sides and additions are in the multiple dozens, all ready to be eaten on the ride home.

1 Monks Park
Wembley HA9 6JD, UK

3. Jay Dee's Catering

28 Lancaster Rd, Notting Hill, London W11 1QP, UK

Stretching from Westbourne Park to Latimer Road and hovering just north of the illustrious Notting Hill, Jay Dees sits in a locale that straddles a wide social spectrum, and manages to cater for all. Hailing from an era where the Red, Gold and Green, soundsystem speakers and jerk drums would have been a common sight in the area, the sizeable takeout feels like one of the last links to an era gone. While the shop has a host of recognisable options from small cups of daily soup to specials such as curry mutton and fried chicken, with the optics of a jerk drum rooted outside.

28 Lancaster Rd, Notting Hill
London W11 1QP, UK

4. The Jerk Drum - Jamaican Bbq

Berwick St, Soho, Market W1F 0PJ, UK

Located in the heart of London in Soho’s weekday food market, Jerk Drum street food stall served shoppers, tourists and nearby office workers alike who would otherwise be hard pressed to find anything even remotely similar for literally miles. Now with central London reduced to a patter of the previous footfall, Jerk Drum has built up enough of a reputation to sustain. Having done his jerk apprentice with George’s in Croydon (see above) it’s easy to see and taste why the flavour here is almost pandemic proof. While boneless curry goat and the vegan Ital curry pot all make completely valid asides, for all jerk needs look no further than the “Mega Mix Box” combining a smoky jerk pork and sweet jerk chicken mash up.

Berwick St, Soho
Market W1F 0PJ, UK

5. George’s First Jerk Catering @ Surrey Street Market

Surrey St, Croydon CR0 1RG, UK
London’s best Caribbean street food jerk: George’s First Jerk Catering at Surrey Street Market in Croydon Riaz Phillips/Eater London

Everyday is like a lottery at George’s First Jerk Catering, located on Croydon’s Surrey Street market. He doesn’t do jerk chicken everyday, but on the days he does, Croydon’s locals and visitors count themselves fortunate, with hungry office workers not around for now. There’s no kitchen backing the stall, so as Glen likes so tout, “once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Surrey St
Croydon CR0 1RG, UK

6. Blessed West Indian Takeaway

203 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, London SW9 8RZ, UK
London’s best Caribbean jerk: Blessed West Indian Takeaway restaurant in Brixton Riaz Phillips/Eater London

For local reggae legend King Atarney, music and food go hand in hand. Swooning reggae tunes — including some of his own — usually provide the sounds inside Blessed. Often cooking alongside his son on their wide furnace, turning chicken and taming flames with a water squirter, all of Atarney’s meals should be accompanied by his son’s all-purpose jerk seasoning sauce, also known as ‘Lightning Blessed!’ The title alone lets would-be eaters know what they are in for.

203 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton
London SW9 8RZ, UK

7. Ossie's Jerk Chicken

209 Walworth Rd, London SE17 1RL, UK

For anyone craving jerk in the wee hours of the day, when most others are tucked away in bed, Ossie’s still cranks out the goods. The £3 ‘chicken and chips’ is a favourite for worldly youngsters seeking an alternative to the scores of chicken shops lining the local high street, a takeaway institution in the area.

209 Walworth Rd
London SE17 1RL, UK

8. Tasty Jerk

88 Whitehorse Ln, London SE25 6RQ, UK

Come a Crystal Palace home football game, hundreds of fans — both home and away — pass through Tasty Jerk for an alternative to bang average stadium grub. With the shop lined with jerk drums, it almost seems to have created a Ford-esque conveyor belt, built to whip out as much perfect jerk as humanly possible come Saturday or Sunday. There might be no fans and no games right now, but the production line rumbles on.

88 Whitehorse Ln
London SE25 6RQ, UK

9. Pepper & Spice Restaurant London

40 Balls Pond Rd, Dalston, London N1 4AU, UK
London’s best Caribbean jerk: Pepper & Spice restaurant in Dalston Riaz Phillips/Eater London

One of the few places on this list that doesn’t use a steel drum or pit replica of some sort, but still gets it spot on. Few places also manage to get the entire multitude of Caribbean offerings, but that’s why Peppers & Spice has existed for over two decades. Head chef Tex has perfected his oven technique for jerking meat, wet-seasoning choice cuts before roasting in large ovens for the locals to take home.
 

Also at: 541 High Road, London N17 6SD

40 Balls Pond Rd, Dalston
London N1 4AU, UK

10. JB's Soul Food

27A Peckham High St, London SE15 5EB, UK
London’s best Caribbean jerk: JB’s Soul Food & Jerk Chicken restaurant on Peckham High Street Riaz Phillips/Eater London

Whilst relatively new compared to some other Caribbean spots in Peckham, this restaurant flies the colours of the Jamaican flag high for all too see. Owner Bill can sometimes be seen to the side of the shop, cooking up jerk chicken in a steel drum he made himself. On the weekend, his jerk pork makes a special appearance, with many lamenting that the shop doesn’t sell it every day. For Caribbean food novices, the shop’s mini meals that range from £2.50 — £3.50 are a fine starting point to take away right now.

27A Peckham High St
London SE15 5EB, UK

11. Rainbow Cookout

Walled Garden Walk, London E8 1JB, UK

Otis Wright’s Jamaican jerk chicken stand in the front yard of St. Augustine’s Tower, off Mare Street in Hackney Central, is responsible for some of east London’s best street food. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Wednesday to Sunday (subject to change), one of Wright’s lesser-known menu items is the £5 jerk chicken sandwich. He debones a freshly grilled leg of chicken, rose-coloured from marination and smoke, adds some cabbage, carrots, onions, and a touch of gravy. Customers add their own hot sauce and/or mayonnaise.

Walled Garden Walk
London E8 1JB, UK

12. Smokey Jerkey

158 New Cross Rd, London SE14 5BA, UK
London’s best Caribbean jerk: Smokey Jerkey restaurant on New Cross Road Riaz Phillips/London

Unlike most Caribbean takeouts that attempt to sell the entire catalogue of island favourites, Smokey Jerkey is a real rarity: it has focussed on selling nothing but jerk lamb, chicken and pork for the last decade. Cooked on owner Louie’s self-designed furnace that burns on hickory wood, there’s a smoked profile not found on most jerk on the capital. Be careful of the seeming tomato ketchup on the counter: it’s actually a house scorpion pepper sauce. Not for the faint-hearted.

158 New Cross Rd
London SE14 5BA, UK

13. People's Choice Caribbean

51B Chatsworth Rd, London E5 0LH, UK
London’s best Caribbean jerk: People’s Choice Caribbean restaurant on Chatsworth Road in Hackney Riaz Phillips/Eater London

Just off Hackney’s Chatsworth road, expect to see proprietor Lenny drifting in and out of his shop, tending to his jerk drum sitting out front throughout the early hours of the day. His slow process of jerking hefty pieces of meat has proved an instant favourite in the area, and that hasn’t changed through recent months.

51B Chatsworth Rd
London E5 0LH, UK

14. Jerk Garden

164 Sydenham Rd, London SE26 5JZ, UK

No-one is ever too far from a Jerk Garden in south London, whichever pocket they reside in. While the mainstream culinary attention in the area is reserved for Clapham and Brixton, with areas like Peckham and Camberwell slowly being broached by critics fearful of being stabbed, the deeper London enclaves further south rarely get a look in. Jerk Garden however, has for long been a champion for these ends. It shys away from the regular optics of a Jamaican jerk outpost in favour of white sleek interiors, plant pots and astro turf flooring, all befitting the garden moniker, which makes visiting the shop a refreshing experience. But while Jerk Garden looks to reinvent the Jamaican eating space, make no mistake: it’s not trying to reinvent Jerk chicken. With ten other options and variants of jerk from salads to coco bread sandwiches and dinner boxes, the advice is to arrive as hungry as possible for something to take away.
Also at:
59 Beckenham Rd, Beckenham, BR3 4PR

394 Brockley Rd, Brockley, London SE4 2BY

164 Sydenham Rd
London SE26 5JZ, UK

15. Mamas Jerk

133 Deptford High St, London SE8 4NS, UK
London’s best Caribbean jerk: Mama’s Jerk restaurant in Deptford Mama’s Jerk [Official Photo]

Mama’s Jerk opened in 2009, celebrating the legacy of owner Adrian’s great grandmother Mama Charlotte, and her secret jerk barbecue sauce recipe. Located in several spots across London, Mama’s Jerk continues to innovate with its sweet and tangy sauce, dousing novel fish cakes, veggie bean cake wraps, and a fresh salad chicken wrap that takes the rainbow as inspiration. All available for delivery and takeaway.


Also at: Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road SW9 8PQ

133 Deptford High St
London SE8 4NS, UK

Related Maps

16. Rhythm Kitchen E17

257 Hoe St, Walthamstow, London E17 9PT, UK

Delroy Dixon, a.k.a. “The Jerk Father,” has been on a mission to illuminate the full breadth of the Caribbeans’ beauty to the UK through the vehicle of food and drink for the last decade. Via the open kitchen of the Stratford Westfield mall outpost and the sleek Walthamstow restaurant which hosted a legendary series of Caribbean rum nights that will hopefully return one day, the jerk options of pork and chicken have been winners from day one and are just as good in the takeaway only world. Left to marinate for 24 hours in a family concoction of herbs and spices before being finished on the grill then caressed with the gravy of marination, the experience will make first-timers question their previous jerk chicken experiences. All are served with options of white rice, rice and peas or even Trinidad Roti sourced from the nearby powerhouse of Horizon foods.

257 Hoe St, Walthamstow
London E17 9PT, UK

Related Maps