[Vallejo, CA] Ruthies Caribbean Kitchen

Thanks for the recommendation sck!

We checked out Ruthies this weekend. According to our server the place opened on Feb 1.

Overall our feeling was the place has great potential but needs work. I have suggestions for the owners, not sure the best way to convey them. The atmosphere of the place could use some sprucing up. The atmosphere is that of a bare bones diner. Not very conducive to enjoying a meal. A change in decor to give it a more relaxing Caribbean vibe would be welcomed. The food: you get to choose an entree and 2 side dishes. Here is what we ate:

Oxtail with sides of Plantains and Mac and cheese. The oxtail was excellent. Definitely the highlight of the meal. The plantains were also excellent tender and caramely. I was curious why Mac and cheese was on the menu because as far as I know it’s not really a Caribbean speciality. But on a whim I choose it. It was dreadful. It was clearly reheated and reheated so that parts of it were warm and other parts room temperature or cooler. It was coagulated and bland.

Curried goat with sides of rice and beans and plantains. The goat was good, but too lacking in any discernible curry flavor. Not at the level of the goat curry we get from the scotch bonnet Jamaican food truck in El Cerrito. They need to bump up the seasoning and spice level. The plantains were excellent. The rice and beans were good but suffered from the same uneven reheating problem as the Mac and cheese.

I hope this place can work out the kinks since it would be nice to have a good Caribbean restaurant in town. Vallejo has a large population and limited decent food options. They just need a bit of redecoration and fine tuning of the menu.

[mod note: restaurant report moved from Berkeley notes discussion]

1 Like

Thanks for the report!

Did they reuse the decor from the previous restaurant? The decor and the vibe looks about as far away from Caribbean as possible… Almost anti-Caribbean since it doesn’t look very laid back/ relaxing.

One Yelper said that Ruthie cooks St. Lucian food. Since I know nothing about the variations in food among the Caribbean islands, I googled what St. Lucian food is about. Looks like they have accra at Ruthie’s. Perhaps you can convince them to cook you some more St. Lucian specialties like green figs and salt fish, which according to that link was the national dish of St. Lucia…!

Interested in your opinion on goat curry, since you mentioned an El Cerrito food truck version. Have you tried Aangan/Albany’s Nepalese version? It’s not spicy, but I find it very flavorful.

Called Khashi Ko Masu, it’s one of those “the best version is made by my mom” dishes, so everybody’s differs; but we thought the (formerly Hamro) Aangan version is very tasty. Better than the version Annapurna/Oakland makes, with a more complex gravy.

My spouse prefers the Khashi Ko Bhutawa, which is the dry-fried curry. Most restaurants refuse to make it; it takes 15 hrs to cook.

Would love to hear your thoughts if/when you can compare them!

I have tried the goat curry at Aangan in Albany. I go there occasionally for lunch with a colleague and it’s our goto dish there. It’s really good- better than Rurthies and the Jamaican food truck. The server there knows we like spicy food and they make it spicy for us. The Chaat appetizers there can also be quite good, though I have noticed variability in quality on different visits. I will have to try the dry fried fish curry next time.