Parisian restaurants that offer excellent Haitian cuisine

The French capital may be best known for its croissants or croque-monsieurs, but the city offers plenty of tasty Haitian dishes.

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HAiti’s culture and history are inextricably linked to France, and the two countries have ties that date back more than 400 years. In the 17th century, enslaved Africans were brought to the island by the French for sugar production, and in 1804 Haiti gained independence from France after a revolution that began in 1791. In the aftermath, France crippled Haiti by demanding 100 million francs (about US$21 billion today) in reparations for lost income from enslaved labor, and it took Haiti more than a century to repay the colonial debt.

Although it has been centuries since France occupied Haiti, France’s colonial influence on the tiny Caribbean island lives on. French and Creole are the official languages ​​of Haiti; Creole is spoken in rural homes and neighborhoods, while French is the language of elite schools, government documents, and official business. Haitian names still carry the legacy of slavery and colonization with French names like Jacques, Louis, and Pierre among the most common names on Haitian birth certificates.

But even with the colonial influence of France, Haitians retained many cultural elements from their West African ancestors. The Creole language has traces of the West African Fon and Ibo languages. Voodoo religious practices of Haiti also originate from West Africa; the word “voodoo” means “spirit” in the West African Fon language. Additionally, Haitians ears (a mixture of peppers, garlic and various herbs) is used in many Haitian dishes and is thought to have West African origins.

In recent decades, due to political and economic turmoil and natural disasters, Haitians have left the island, taking their beloved traditions with them to new lands. Today, the Haitian diaspora is scattered around the world, with large Haitian communities in Miami, Boston, Montreal and Paris. Although it is difficult to obtain exact figures, there is an estimate 85,000 Haitians living in France; many have made the capital their home.

The Haitian community living in Paris has continued to preserve and share its rich culture through food, and for those looking for a taste of Haiti in the City of Light, here are some restaurants in the capital serving Haitian cuisine.

In Tropical Paradise

In Tropical Paradise is located in the 18th arrondissement in a district nicknamed “Little Africa”. The area is home to North and West Africans and offers textiles, spices and an open-air food market. The Caribbean flavors of Au Paradis Tropical are a perfect fit for the colorful neighborhood; the interior is decorated with oversized paintings of beach scenes, and there are plenty of small tables for two inside the warmly lit dining room.

The menu features some of Haiti’s most beloved dishes like Haitian chicken (chicken in a spicy tomato-based sauce), goat mug (fried goat), and fish, a whole fish entree that can be ordered fried or grilled with a side of plantains. Dessert options include upside-down pineapple cake or Mont Blanc, a sweet chestnut puree topped with whipped cream.

The drink menu includes the tangy Barbancourt cocktail made with Barbancourt, Haiti’s national rum, lime, and cane sugar. The restaurant also offers non-alcoholic drinks like the Florida cocktail made with orange juice and pineapple, lime and grenadine.

Creole Coffee

Creole Coffee serves French Caribbean cuisine in a “hard-to-miss” blue-and-yellow restaurant, and the menu represents the French islands of Martinique, Mauritius, Guyana, Reunion, Guadeloupe, and Haiti. The restaurant features alfresco bistro seating and an interior that will transport diners to the West Indies with cottage-style white chairs and tables, rattan lamps, and painted tropical murals.

The restaurant has an eclectic offering of Caribbean Creole dishes, and one of the highlights of the menu is cod beignets, a popular Haitian dish made by frying breaded bites of spicy cod. A popular vegan dish, kreyol bowlincludes plantains, avocado, kidney beans and rice, and cashews.

The Caffé Créole bar also offers more than 60 kinds of rum representing the French Indies, including bottles of 15-year-old Barbancourt. During a daily happy hour from 4-8 p.m., you can get discounted cocktails, beers, and soft drinks.

Ti Case Creole

Ti Case Creole is a bright and airy Caribbean restaurant with several Haitian appetizers and drinks. With light wood floors and plush teal and brown seating, the interior is reminiscent of the sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

One of Ti Case Creole’s starters is Haitian pikliz, a spicy coleslaw made with pickled red cabbage, carrots and red pepper. The restaurant also serves another popular Haitian dish: a hearty stew made with chunks of beef marinated in a garlic, chopped onion, and cumin sauce.

There’s a huge selection of draft beers, cocktails, rums and wines to pair with your meal, and our favorite is Port-au-Prince’s mocktail. The name pays homage to the Haitian capital and the drink is made with pineapple, orange and mango juices.

Riz DjonDjon gets its name from the black djondjon mushrooms that grow in northern Haiti.

Rice DjonDjon

Rice DjonDjon overlooks rue Saint-Denis, one of the oldest streets in Paris. The restaurant’s exterior has a modern black-and-white facade, but inside, contrasting cobalt-and-yellow walls and light fixtures covered in straw hats welcome diners in search of Caribbean comfort food.

The restaurant’s name refers to Haitian black rice made with black djondjon mushrooms that give the rice its color. Main entrees here include a choice of lamb chops, chicken or fish which can be paired with the savory black rice. Another tasty starter is beef mafe, a creamy beef stew made with peanut sauce and cooked vegetables.

Some of the cocktails are named after Haitian cities, such as the Jacmel, which is made with coconut milk, mango, and pineapple juice and can be ordered with or without alcohol. And for beer lovers, don’t forget to order a cold bottle of Prestige, Haiti’s national beer.

>> Next: 5 charming villages in the south of France for your next road trip

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