I haven’t been to Jamaica, but I recently checked out the Island Spot in Oak Cliff, Texas. With only one other location in Carrollton, this place is a respite for Dallas-based Rastafarians-at-heart. The brightly lit dining area is simply decorated with tables and chairs and a nice, Caribbean-themed bar. A Pandora playlist of all your reggae favorites hums in the background. Yellow—lots of it—is complemented by green tones throughout the place. Our waiter is not the Jamaican guy. We get the young, thin Hispanic guy who’s eager to tell us about the restaurant:
We opened two months ago. Our original location is in Carrollton.
Oh wow! I wasn’t aware there was an original location. Are the owners from Jamaica?
Yes, they are, ma’am. I’m, personally, not Jamaican.
Oh! No way!
He was on island time, though. After scanning the menu for drinks, I passed on the rum punch and ordered a mimosa. Chad ordered a Red Stripe. The bartender opened the bottle and sent it to our table with the bottlecap resting on top:
Waiter: do you know the significance of the bottle cap?
What do you mean?
The bottle cap resting that way?
No, what does it mean?
In Jamaica, it means good luck. So you’ll have a lot of good luck today. (Side note: That was the third beer, so hence the “lots of” good luck.)
I don’t know if that’s actually true or where this guy got his information, but it only enhanced our experience. The star of the show wasn’t the waiter, as you might think, but the food. Insanely good. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t had good jerk-anything like this before. I ordered the jerk shrimp and grits and Chad ordered the jerk chicken.
Mine was everything I’d hoped for and more. The shrimp was sweet and succulent. It wasn’t stringy or rubbery. The jerk sauce was the perfect combination of spices, and hints of cloves gave my taste buds a beautiful awakening.
But Chad’s was even better. The chicken was well cooked—moist, glistening and layered with jerky goodness. The well-buttered cabbage salad was anything but an afterthought. I took a bite of chicken and cabbage, closed my eyes, focused on the flavors—cinnamon, cloves, sweetness, chicken, salt. I paused, still with my eyes closed because I didn’t want this moment to end. I was this-close to tearing up over food. Yeah, I get like that sometimes. I’ve never tasted anything like that before and I wanted to just take it all in. Does anybody else ever feel like that? Like something is so good you just want to cry?
It was seriously one of the best meals I’ve eaten. And whenever I do end up going to Jamaica, they better represent, because the Island Spot is no joke. Go there, and tell me you don’t feel like you had an out-of-body experience.
(Feature image courtesy of The Island Spot.)