May 19, 2016 - Food and Drink

Where to get the best damn roti in Charlotte

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You won’t find a crew of hipsters waiting in annoying lines here. Nor will you expect fancy drinks named after literary figures lining the cocktail menu. But if you’re content sipping on a rum and coke at a wobbly table, dining at Mama’s Caribbean Grill and Bar in Plaza Midwood offers an eclectic array of palatable experiences you can grow to appreciate.

And that’s where we found each other. The roti that is.

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In an unremarkable, nondescript store front, I sat with my date behind a stage where a man crooned variations of Bob Marley songs from a world counter-cultural to the changing neighborhood on the outside. Without hesitation, the gentleman and I fell into a realm Mama’s Caribbean created for us—and then we ordered. 

An investment of $11 bought me a part of Charlotte the city had forgotten to introduce me to. Created in the back kitchen by someone from the family and served on plates reminiscent of hot meals at home, “the roti” arrived to my table smelling of something I dare wouldn’t chance to revive in a microwave. No, I would have to finish it all. 

It’s ingredients served flavor like a sweet haiku:

Flat bread
Curry chicken
Split peas
Oh damn

Sure, Charlotte is not completely bereft of decent Caribbean restaurants. There are a sundry of Queen City residents hailing from the West Indies, and numerous restaurants offering their best culinary delights. But not all roti is created equal. You know, the kind of places where the jerk sauce doesn’t make your nose run. 

The roti at Mama’s Carribbean is unapologetic, inviting a stage encore to thinking deeply about its sustained future in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood and increasing rent prices. It is considerate of its culture, begging for taste beyond pretentiousness. And it is a part of Charlotte we should all think to invite ourselves to experience as often as we can. 

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