Their business card says Hilltop’s, the signs say Hilltop. I’ll go with Hilltop. Anyway, I’ve passed by this place for years and, while forever meaning to investigate it, always came up with excuses not to stop. Hilltop is in a narrow storefront in an aging building and the curb is painted green. The neighborhood is slightly dubious. But finally I stopped for lunch last Wednesday.
Hilltop turned out to be much more restaurant than market. There are a half-dozen tables and on the walls are amateur drawings and paintings. No customers were present at 1:30. The market consisted of a corner with shelves stocked with shakers of jerk seasoning, packets of curry powder and cans of breadfruit slices.
At the counter, I asked the employee for a recommendation. “First time?” he asked. He suggested oxtail stew. The small plate is $10 and came with rice, plantains, cabbage and fry bread. I got a ginger beer from the refrigerated case. He didn’t charge me for the drink. “I gave you a discount,” he said.
I have no basis for comparison but certainly enjoyed my meal, eating every bite except for some rice. In fact it was so filling I didn’t even need dinner.
Hilltop also sells fried chicken, curry goat, curry chicken and fish patties, which the paper menu reports are sold in restaurants in L.A. and at the Bob Marley Festival in Long Beach. My guess is that takeout, catering and perhaps wholesale are a bigger part of their business than the dining room.
But for the adventurous, I recommend the place, mon.
Review By: Journalist David Allen
Restaurant of the Week: Hilltop Jamaican
Posted on March 22, 2008