I met Erika and Sean at a super bowl event where they were serving their delicious jerk chicken legs. Sean invited me to come into his restaurant to try more food. The restaurant is located in a small neighborhood a few blocks away from Downtown formerly Staples Center, now Crypto Stadium. It’s on a corner and has a great tropical vibe. It’s a nice getaway in a very urban setting. Once inside Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine you will notice a small but very inviting dining room. The space has been completely redone since it housed Pupuseria Jiquilisco. I remember driving by and seeing this restaurant, it was not pleasing to the eye. Sean did some truly amazing work getting it to look as festive as it does, especially because he opened during the pandemic in August of 2021. It is simple but creative design at its best. There is a bamboo wall, upside down basket lamps, faux ivy garden wall, large black and white photos, and British soccer playing on a flat screen in the background. It has an indoor-outdoor feel, with an open beam ceiling.
Since Sean opened, business has been booming. But, this is not typical Caribbean fare it’s really special. Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine is one of the only Caribbean places in Los Angeles to offer Halal meats in their recipes. Halal means animals must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter and all blood is drained from the carcass. During the process, a Muslim will recite a dedication, known as Tamiya or Shahabad. Supermarkets selling halal products say they stun all animals before they are slaughtered, and the difference is that the halal meat it was blessed before the animal is killed. Sean says that he uses lemon and vinegar to wash the chicken and meat before cooking, he really believes that all of this adds to the complete taste, tenderness, and goodness of the various meats. Their meats are delicious and if this is their process then all the more power to them, really worth trying. It is all very specific and mindful, which to me adds to the overall feeling you get when you’re eating it.
Here’s What I Tried:
C’S Patties, these are like empanadas, and are so wonderful, the vegetables in the patties are very sweet corn, peppers, and onions. The meat is ground meat and is super flavorful. I tried both the Spicy Beef Pattie, and Vegetable Pattie.
C’s Fried Dumplings, these for sure are dippers, which should be used in all of the great sauces served.
Fried Plantains, when done right they are not super sweet and add a nice extra nuance to any meal, these were done to perfection.
C’S Basmati Rice, this rice will blow your hair back. I got parts of the secret ingredients after talking to Sean; clove, garlic, scallions, thyme, onion, coconut milk, allspice, red kidney beans and bay leaves. There is more then this but that’s all I was able to get out of Sean. It is just so exceptional, the aroma and nuances will make you come back for more.
Jasmine White Rice, great rice, perfectly cooked, pour some of the oxtail sauce on it and your good to go.
C’s Butter Bean & Oxtails, the oxtails are really tender and the sauce is otherworldly.
C’S Curry Shrimp, this curry is very light and comforting. It is not what you would think typical curry tastes like, Caribbean curry is much more resembling a delicate soup with unique subtle curry flavors.
C’s Original Jerk Rubbed Shrimp. This was my favorite dish. They get really good shrimp, that is wild caught. I would just order buckets of this, it is that good.
Jerk Salmon, delicious and tender, with amazing jerk flavor, a great menu item.
More Life Ital Stew Side, for the vegan, a really terrific healthy stew, I just loved the Okra. Sean used to be a pescatarian, but is now a Vegan, so he really puts so much effort into making this dish taste fantastic.
Reggae Medley, this juice is full of many fruits, and will just quench your thirst, after some of the spicy foods.
Sean Romeo is the chief chef and bottle washer; he is very hands on to say the least. When I peeked around the corner to the kitchen there he was busy creating his memorable menu items. He had no formal training or experience. He would watch his grandmother, Audrey Romeo Rosemond Jackson, in the kitchen as a child. Sean credits his grandmothers delicious cooking to what he now calls his conscious kitchen. Not to be mistaken for Jamaican Caribbean cuisine, he is from Barbados, and his family is from Antigua. He agrees that there is a melting pot of Caribbean cuisine from many different countries, but Sean is very specific in that his cooking is more steeped in his Barbados roots. Sean is a real gentleman, and really loves his Caribbean food and traditions. You can tell just how passionate he really is about this place. What keeps him going is seeing the gratification on his customers face. He’s a people person. It resonates in all of his dishes and the way he treats you when you walk in the door.
Sean moved to Los Angeles from Miami because he loved the tropical feel of Southern California. Sean loves his family, while I was eating his gorgeous son Taj decided to take a nap right next to me. He looks a lot like his dad.
From Cecilia’s Website: Innovators of Caribbean Cuisine in The Heart of Los Angeles. Introducing culture, lifestyle, and fine Caribbean cuisine to the diverse city of Los Angeles, California. They are the heartbeat and the rhythm of SoCal. Including: Zabiha Halal Meats, Wild Caught Seafood, Vegan Options. Los Angeles, California has a diverse community of residents and transients from the Caribbean. With a calling and demand to offer more to this bustling city, we launched LA’s first fine dining experience for Caribbean food and culture with a contemporary flair. We are a conscious kitchen, offering a variety for special dietary needs. We call ourselves innovators and specialists of Fine Caribbean Cuisine Dining, an element that’s been missing from LA’s foodie scene for some time. Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine as a family-owned restaurant with vision of restaurant owner S. Romeo. We offer more than cuisine, we bring the history, culture, and community to the rich culture of the Caribbean. With authentic flavors from the Caribbean, deeply rooted in the islands, guests from around the world flock to visit. Our chefs know the art of the Caribbean flavor. We are more than a dining experience, we are a lifestyle. Immerse.
Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine is an eclectic sample of Caribbean cuisine. We are the first Island restaurant to offer Zabiha Halal. Our desire is to bring the taste of the West Indies to Los Angeles. Nestled two blocks away from LA Live and are conveniently located in DTLA, close to the 110 freeway. The island connection runs deep at Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine with our friendly staff.
Come be transported from the vibes of our space. You’ll be whisked away by earth tones, bamboo, and plenty of foliage when you walk through our doors. The sweet sounds of reggae, calypso, and soca will also mesmerize your eardrums while the vibrant aromas of curry and jerk engulf your sense of smell. Visuals in the backdrop of carnival, dancehall streaming alongside walls full of paintings depicting Caribbean culture. Our patio dining doesn’t fall short. Sit and enjoy the DTLA skyline with Lady Saw and Horsemouth as your backsplash while catching a glimpse of our authentic jerk pan in action. Our aesthetic beats of love and our understanding is that of social consciousness. Seafood is always wild-caught and sustainable and our farm to table always organic.
Staff Includes; Sean Romeo – Group-Chef & Owner, Ronaldo Nichols – Prep Cook, Jerry Cantrell – Cook, Danny Delgado – Dish/Prep.
Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine
1403 W. 11th St.
Los Angeles, CA. 90015