With all due respect to artisanal bars of soap and yard sale shower radios, the best use of $7 that we know of is a meal at Peppa’s Jerk Chicken in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. There’s no seating at this small, takeout-only Caribbean spot, but the reggae music videos playing on the TV screen and the smells coming from the grill behind the register are more than enough to keep you entertained while you wait for your order. And whether you eat your food on a bench in Prospect Park a block away, or on your couch while you try to remember your mom’s Verizon login, you’ll realize that Peppa’s is twice as delicious and half as expensive as whatever else you typically get delivered to your apartment.
The menu here has a few different Caribbean dishes, but as you might expect based on the name, the jerk chicken is the star. A small portion, which is $7 and definitely enough food for one person, comes in a styrofoam container, and includes several pieces of juicy, smoky chicken over rice and beans. Get a side of hot sauce, but use it with extreme care - it’ll leave your mouth tingling like you just ate a combination of Sichuan peppercorns and Pop Rocks. Also, be sure to add a $1 festival (basically a long, sweet hushpuppy) - or seven, if you can kick your artisanal soap habit.
This is the reason you go to Peppa’s. The grilled meat, which is chopped into pieces on a counter behind the register, comes out with a great balance of smoke, salt, and spices. The cashier will hand you a bottle of house hot sauce that you can pour on the chicken before leaving, and will also give you a friendly warning that this will “turn it up a notch.” He’s not exaggerating - you may want to ask for a small container so you can take it on the side.
If you’re getting food for a group and want some variation, the oxtail is a good way to go. The meat is rich and tender, but the best part is the rice and beans underneath, which soak up all the juices and would make a really good side on their own.
The portions here are big, but no matter how much chicken or oxtail or anything else you order, make sure to get at least one festival. They’re $1 each, and they look like breadsticks but taste like sweet hushpuppies. They also help balance the hot sauce, so get one to start your meal and one to finish it off.