Gretna’s Island Paradise offers a taste of the Caribbean on the Westbank

If you’re looking for traditional Caribbean food in a bright atmosphere served by friendly people, then this is the spot for you.

by Marielle Songy
October 29, 2019

One need only take a walk through the French Quarter on a muggy summer day and look around and the sights, smells and sounds of the city to realize that the veil between New Orleans and the Caribbean is very thin. Not only do we share a climate, but the food of New Orleans has been greatly influenced by Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic and other beautiful islands. New Orleans’ favorite dishes such as gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and étouffée can trace their roots back to French, Spanish and yes, Caribbean influences. That’s why it’s no surprise that the New Orleans restaurant scene has seen an influx of true Caribbean restaurants owned and operated by first and second-generation Caribbean people in recent years.

One of these restaurants is Island Paradise, an unassuming restaurant located at 635 Kepler St. in Gretna. The restaurant is small, but the menu is packed with food from the island of Trinidad and Tobago.

The restaurant also offers a selection of food from Haiti and Jamaica from owner Nadine Balbosa, who runs the restaurant from the front door to the kitchen.

The menu has a mouth-watering selection of exactly the type of food you would hope to enjoy here: stewed oxtails, stewed chicken, jerk chicken, curried goat, traditional Trini doubles, plantains, and roti, and that’s only scratching the surface.

What We Ate

Although I have had Caribbean food before, I’ll admit that I’m not as “schooled” in it as I am other cuisines. I went into Island Paradise with an open mind and excited to try a few things that I hadn’t had before and sample some old familiar favorites.

For my lunch, I knew immediately that I wanted to start with Traditional Trini Doubles- which is made with two pieces of flat fried dough filled with curried chickpeas, peppers and chutneys. This is one of the foods I had never had before, so I was going in blind.

I also ordered the Paradise jerk chicken with a side of Dhalpouri roti and I also indulged in some cornbread and sweet plantains.

 

All of the food here is made to order, but my patience definitely paid off when an incredible spread of food was laid out in front of me. The first thing that I tried was the Trini Doubles and it was fantastic! I loved that the baras (fried dough) was nice and light and the filling was tasty with a lot of flavor. In this version, you can get it with or without peppers. I got it with peppers and I found it to be the perfect combination of savory and spicy. It was my first experience, and I liked it so much that I am already planning to order it again on my next visit.

Next, I dug into the jerk chicken and Dhalpouri roti. I love jerk chicken and the version here didn’t disappoint. Island Paradise serves up a large piece of juicy and flavorful chicken topped with a sauce that was sweet and complimented the dish well.

The Dhalpouri roti was traditional flatbread served with Island Paradise’s Trinidadian potato curry. This was a dish that had some really good spice to it and I loved it! I feel like a lot of restaurants are afraid to really serve well-spiced dishes, but I’m happy to report that Island Paradise doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to flavors.

The cornbread went wonderfully with everything and the sweet plantains were perfection. Fun fact about me: sweet plantains is one of my all-time favorite foods and I order it whenever I see it on a menu.

A line on Island Paradise’s menu reads, “Where the island meets the mainland.” and my experience here reflected that mantra perfectly. If you’re looking for traditional Caribbean food in a bright atmosphere served by friendly people, then this is the spot for you.

Know Before You Go

Price Range: $10-$20

Island Paradise Restaurant & Grill
$$$$
Getting there
635 Kepler St, Gretna, LA 70053, USA
Hours
Mon Closed
Tue-Thu 11am–6pm
Fri 11am–8pm
Sat 12–8pm
Sun Closed
More Info

Marielle was born and raised in New Orleans. She thinks it's hard to grow up there and not let the culture and history of the city become part of you. Whether it be the jazz, food, of fabulous architecture, she thinks most would agree that things are a little spicer down here. You can reach her via email at [email protected]

More Local Stories

Eat Play Stay Orlando: Sanford

On this episode of Eat Play Stay Orlando explore what’s new in the Northern part of town. Sanford has a plethora of breweries, bars, and delicious dining options to choose from.

Hometown Tragedy: The Pike County Massacre

On this episode of Hometown Tragedy: Missing in Milwaukee, we’ll explore what happened to Jerica Banks, her children, and how it impacted their community.

Six New Orleans parks that are perfect locations to celebrate 4th of July

Head to one of these six New Orleans parks to celebrate Independence Day in the city.

Cheap Date Orlando: Punk Rock & Pooches

Two Orlando couples shop vintage, search for the perfect slice, visit a post-apocalyptic saloon, and take the stage on blind dates in Orlando.

Fit and Fab: Free summer workouts in Boston

Cover photo courtesy Getty Images Looking to get fit for the summer? Still wary of COVID-19 or just looking for some sunshine while you sweat? Here are some Boston free summer workouts across the city so you can keep moving all season long! Seaport Sweat May 2 to Sept. 29 Boston’s biggest free workout series…

What’s On the Menu?: Farm-to-table

The farm-to-table movement brings locally grown foods to your plate. Not only will enjoying farm-to-table meals allow you to indulge in fresh, nutritional, seasonal dishes, but farm-to-table dining helps the environment and supports the local economy.  Check out these delicious farm-to-table restaurants in Greenville, South Carolina on the latest episode of What’s On the Menu?. …

A guide to some of the best Black-owned brunch spots in NOLA

Gather the crew together, make those reservations, and celebrate all things Black at brunch. 

A guide to Pittsburgh’s summer events must-do list

Check out our roundup below for the can’t-miss events happening in the city over the next few months.

Eat Play Stay Orlando: Tarpon Springs

In this episode of Eat Play Stay Orlando you’ll be transported to a thriving Greek community nestled on Florida’s gulf coast. From sponge diving to flaming cheese to a Greek bakery that supplies a ginormous amount of baklava to the entire country, you’re sure to fall in love with Greek culture in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Dorchester doughnuts that pack a paczki

These traditional Polish pastries are the real deal.

black owned brunch spots new orleans 14 parishes

A guide to some of the best Black-owned brunch spots in NOLA

Gather the crew together, make those reservations, and celebrate all things Black at brunch. 

Queen Trini Lisa’s Ascension to New Orleans’ Caribbean Soul Food Throne

Lisa Nelson didn’t plan on being a chef. She didn’t anticipate becoming a queen either, but true to the most beloved of royalty, the people made her one.

A grab-and-go food guide to the MSY New Orleans terminal

Time. Most of us don’t have a lot of that. Even less so when we’re rushing to make a flight. There are still plenty of tasty options for the less leisurely travelers among us, though it helps to know where to find them.

Chef Dee Lavigne expands the only Black-owned cooking school in New Orleans

Deelightful Roux School of Cooking is the only African American-owned cooking school taught by a New Orleans native, and her class is a guide to New Orleans’ food culture.