What draws dozens of hungry lunch patrons to the various roti shops across the nation is the wrapped roti. The roti itself is flour dough based and it’s either filled with split peas, dhalpuri, or made with lots of yummy butter paratha or ‘buss up shut’ (because the shorn roti looks like a tattered shirt).
Dhalpuri roti is whole, making it the perfect vessel for cocooning a variety of different vegetable and meat curry options (think Mexican burrito). This is the hand held meal that people wait hours for.
Other popular types of roti are: Sada (plain) and Dosti (two layered roti). When you ready to order you can choose any combination you wish, from perennial favourite, curried chicken accompanied by curried potato and channa (chick peas), curried mango, pumpkin and whatever else the shop managed to think of that day.
The choices can be as dizzying as the heady curries themselves, but when you’re in the mood for a good roti, these are MACO’s highly recommended pit-stops:
1. Wings, Sawmill Trace, Pasea, Macoya
‘The best of the best’. Even Machel Montano can’t resist the pull of the roti! Though everything is good, the curry duck can actually be described as bliss. The approach here is simple and fundamental, but well done. The buss-up-shot (paratha) is almost transparent when held up to light – thin, silky, heavenly. No beef, no boneless chicken available ‘ boneless is for girls anyway. The homemade ‘mother in law’ is the perfect pepper compliment, but go easy if it’s your first time. The place has character, beer and rum available, service is good but parking can be tricky.
2. Shianne’s, Cipriani Blvd
Variety for days! If you can’t find something you like here, chances are you are in the mood for KFC, not curry. The chicken is awesome, the goat is wonderful (and I’ve heard the shrimp is pretty good!) Three different types of pepper sauces are available – red, green and yellow. There are sides a-plenty to choose from, so don’t miss out on the pumpkin and bodi (long green beans). If you need some advice ask Shianne herself as she is often there and on hand to tell you all about her favourite cricket stars. Good character, great food, no alcohol, and terrible parking.
3. Don’s Roti, Morne Coco Rd, Petit Valley
This one is probably one of the more unassuming locations for a truly great roti shop – hidden amongst a strip of dive bars in the midst of Petit Valley and is referred to as one of the finest roti’s in the country. Don’t be afraid to wind your way through the drunks and homeless folk that sometimes decorate the front – this is a true roti hot spot. Once inside you may have a wait, but it’s worth it!
4. Highway Roti Shoppe, Uriah Buttler Highway, Freeport
To get to this place you must first park illegally on the side of the highway, make your way across a small bridge. No wrapped roti, they serve all buss up shot and meat, which means you get to sop up all that ‘nirvana of curry goodness’. All meats are top class. You also have the unique option of ‘dougla’ (a curry/stew blend). Service is fast, no alcohol, a slight crisp on the buss up shot.
5. No Name, Yellow building, Behind Royal Castle Maraval
The roti may look small but it packs pleeeenty goodness, and you are almost guaranteed that the gravy will run down your arm! Must drink a red Solo with this roti for old time’s sake. It’s a brilliant tribute to long time roti shops. Fast, inexpensive and straight to the delicious point!
6. Patraj, Backchain Street, El Soccorro
It’s impossible to talk about roti without mentioning The Original Patraj on Backchain Street in San Juan. Possibly the most famous roti shop in the country, it was established in the 1970s. A great roti shop in a legendary location, but be wary of the crowd. The line can stretch from the front to the parking lot.
7. Sylvie’s, Backchain Street, El Soccorro
Directly opposite Patraj is Sylvie’s. A bustling roti shop that some say surpasses the most famous roti shop of all. Possibly it’s because their batches are smaller and the roti just as soft and silky as it’s meant to be, this place is good! Try the shrimp roti with their home made pepper sauce and you’ll find out exactly why people opt for her instead.
8. Ali’s, Backchain Street, El Sccorro
Great curry! Completely worth the long line and the inevitable traffic. Inside you can expect some sketchy patrons, but sit tight, the boss lady has it all under control. Take it to go.
9. Rena’s Roti Shop, Old Milford Rd, Scarbrough, Tobago
It’s a little harder, but you also find very decent roti in Tobago! Rena is friendly Trini that makes a delicious roti with all the fixings, guaranteeing a filling meal. Delicious, rich curry but expect a wait.
10. Blue Hut, Mt Irvine Beach, Tobago
Possibly the most beautiful place in the world to eat a roti. Overlooking the world famous Mt Irvine waves, the lovely lady will make the whole roti right in front of you. She won’t make too many, so get there early and ask her to tell you about life in Tobago. Make sure to walk with something to drink while you wait. The roti will not disappoint, and the view is breathtaking.