Sunrise Caribbean Restaurant is not only an amazing restaurant that is filled with the same familiar faces, it’s a small piece of my life because it was a part of my transition from being a young adult to an adult. I’ve seen them from their Station in Union Station, to their Stand in DC Veg Fest, and grow into their Brick and Mortar Establishment located near the heart of Georgia Avenue. Their bright colored sign, amazing tasting vegan and non-vegan food that put you into proud and happy food comas, fresh pressed juices, and wellness tips are just a few of the things that make this your go-to Caribbean Restaurant.
From the time that I was a young girl I have been exposed to multiple cultures and their foods. Being that my father is of Caribbean Descent, one of our go-to take out options was always Caribbean food. I grew up down the street from a Negril, which is the best chain of restaurants that contain Caribbean food in my personal opinion. I grew to fall in love with curry chicken, goat, and shrimp, jerk chicken, stewed chicken, and oxtail as well as patties, rice and beans and coco bread as a result of being able to have Negril and other Caribbean restaurants in my area. I had the perfect the opportunity helped to develop my love for spicy food and trying new things. As I got older, I began going out of my way to find the best Caribbean food in the area. I soon found out that if you wanted good Caribbean food, you had to go to a hole in the wall that was not a chain. Because the chains are good, but the taste of the food was no where near that of a restaurant that was its own small business. So when I was a teenager living in the city, I was incredibly independent because of my ability to take the train and bus everywhere, so one day after school, I was at Union Station, and my love for Caribbean food Exploded.
After school on Fridays, my best friend and I would always go to Union Station because our boyfriends at the time were on the football team, and we couldn’t just hang around the school for 4 hours, so we would kill time by shopping with the extra $10 or $15 in our pockets, and getting something to eat. One day we were in the food court and I was looking hard for something to eat. Now at this time, I was a pescatarian and I wasn’t in the mood for Chipotle, which is always my go-to, so I was at a loss about what I could eat. My friend, who is addicted to orange chicken, simply went to a Chinese Food Station, while I spent around up to 10 minutes walking around the food court. I soon, saw a sign that read “Sunrise Caribbean Cafe” with a sun above it. I then saw that their menu included “Vegan Jerk Chicken, Vegan Curry Chicken, Vegan BBQ Steak, Vegan Stew Chicken, Vegan Sweet and Sour Pineapples Steak, Vegan Stir-Fry, and Vegan Mac and Cheese” and in all honesty, I was sold at the “Vegan Jerk Chicken”. And of course it said other things, but I wasn’t thinking about all that. So I ordered the Jerk Chicken, Rice and beans, and the Regular Mac and Cheese (honestly I was a punk, and since I wasn’t a vegan, I didn’t see the need to have the Regular Mac and Cheese if my diet didn’t require for me to do so). Since I had never been to a place that had a separate vegan menu, especially for Caribbean food, I was ecstatic to try it out. When I had it for the first time, and tasted the perfect and authentic Jerk Seasoning, And not the jerk that Negril would make, but the Jerk that my father and sister would make, and I fell in love.
Every single Friday after that for the remainder of high school football season, I got a plate from them. I rotated between the Jerk, Curry, Pineapple Steak, and BBQ Steak and NEVER got the vegan mac and cheese. I even got laughed at by the owner for ordering all of the vegan food and not the vegan mac and cheese. I started telling everyone that I knew about this place, especially their Macaroni and Cheese because it is simply on another planet. But the only person that showed to be interested was my mother. So one day, we went over and I grabbed the Jerk Chicken and she got Curry Chicken and took our plates to go. Now, I forgot to grab something to drink while I was there and I realized after I started eating. Not because I was thirsty, but because the jerk seasoning was purely authentic and purely spicy. So I’m eating my delicious Jerk Chicken in my mom’s car with my nose running, my eyes are watering, and I’m coughing a lot more than I would want to, especially since I’m someone who literally laughs at the idea of someone telling me that something is spicy. Most people would ask, “why wouldn’t you just stop eating?” And my answer is, “it was just too good to stop”.
After my senior year was over, and I went to college in South Carolina, I had severe withdrawals because there was a cultural food drought where I was. So I had to travel miles for good (and incredibly expensive) Thai Food and Sushi. No Indian. No Caribbean. Definitely no African Cuisine in the slightest. I was surrounded by Jimmy Johns, Cheesesteaks, and sub par, takeout Hibachi Restaurants. So I knew where one of my main stops was going to be when I came back home for break. When I was done with school, I made it my business to patronize them consistently. When I got my braces, I went to them to celebrate, and it was then that I tried their amazingly creamy, savory and delicious Vegan Macaroni and Cheese. And to this day, on the times that I do allow for myself to consume soy, I make sure it’s with them and their Mac and Cheese. Side Note: You may have some reservations about vegetables being in your Macaroni and Cheese, but I promise, they will make you lean towards it for sure. When I got my learners permit and wanted to celebrate with them. When I went to DC Veg fest, I got myself a hefty plate to take home (and yes they pack those plates). Even when I got my braces tightened, I suffered through some of the most agonizing pain to eat their delicious food (Again, it was too good for me to just not eat). And when I signed the lease on my first apartment, I went to grab a plate from them to celebrate with my younger brother who has grown to love them ALMOST as much as I do.
As their business has grown, I have grown. They have become a favorite restaurant to my family. Especially my younger brother who absolutely loves their beef patties. The same tall gentleman with long dreadlocks who served me when I was 17, serves me now at 23. And the same sweet woman who makes the magic happen in the back, also serves me to this day. And I will say, I know that their food saves lives because no one there has aged a day and I’ve been going there for 6 years. They have the type of food in their establishment that make it hard to make it all the way home without touching it because the smell is far too enticing. And their food will have you coming back time and time again. The music playing throughout the store, the smell of the food, the Fresh Sorrel and Ginger Juices, and the calming energy given from the staff, will have you all in the foodie feels (Vegan and Non-Vegan).