Let me tell you ’bout this girl, maybe I shouldn’t
I met her in Philly and her name was Brown Sugar
Though D’Angelo isn’t from Philly himself, he’s certainly been through town a few times, so it’s easy to imagine him writing that reverie about one of 52nd Street’s greatest culinary assets: Brown Sugar Bakery & Cafe. And while I’m going to tell you about Brown Sugar, I can’t help but feel like “maybe I shouldn’t.” The prices are so cheap and the quality so good that I’m afraid even the slightest change in their business profile will upset the delicate balance. That said, word usually gets around about a place like Brown Sugar anyway, and as it is I’m shocked I don’t have to navigate a maze of ‘fixies‘ every time I stop in for a meal.
Open seven days a week from 9am to 10pm, and located at 52nd and Chancellor (one block south of Walnut), Brown Sugar offers delicious Caribbean staples like roti and fish platters, and for just a dollar, they have an assortment of delicious savory pastries (beef, chicken, chicken curry, and vegetarian). They also stock some interesting beverages like a Peanut soda and “Irish Moss”–an algae-based sweet concoction. Since they do all their own baking on the premises, there’s an excellent assortment of sweet pastries and cakes. Try the coconut rolls, if you get a chance. Not to be missed are the “doubles.” Available only Wednesday through Saturday, “doubles” are an indigenous street food from Trinidad & Tobago. A “doubles”–yes, it seems to be a plural used in the singular, though I’ve never managed to eat just one–consists of a chick-pea based spicy stew, a sweet chutney, and an optional spoonful of hot pepper sauce, sandwiched between two lightly-fried rounds of soft dough or “bara.” They are not to be missed, especially at $1.50 each. Here’s the Philadelphia Weekly’s Liz Spikol taking the full measure of Brown Sugar’s doubles:
It can be a little disorienting to figure out where to order when you walk into Brown Sugar. If there’s nobody behind the baked-goods counter, proceed to the kitchen window at the back where someone can help you. Brown Sugar has two tables that seat about eight, and while I’ve never seen both tables occupied at once, the real strength of the place is as takeout food. Of course I advocate that you get a couple of pastries and a doubles or two to take to the next Jazz night in Malcolm X Park.
Brown Sugar Bakery and Cafe, Inc.
219 S. 52nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19139