Hilltop Jamaican Market and Restaurant, 1061 E. Holt Ave. (at Clark), Pomona
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.
* Update, April 2014: I went in for lunch and had jerk chicken ($9.50, below), which came with rice, spinach, plantains and fried bread, plus a ginger beer ($1.75). The chicken was spicy! Tasty — I ate it all — but too spicy for me; probably just right or not spicy enough for you. It’s an interesting environment: There’s a refrigerated case with regular drinks as well as pineapple and grape sodas, peanut soda (!) and others; a rack of bagged plantain chip snacks; shelves of rice, curry powder, jerk marinade and more; and a retail corner with some Jamaican goods, posters, diet pills and skateboards.