If you’re like me and unable to leave town during these upcoming chilly months, you might be looking for a way to experience a bit of the islands closer to home. There is no better way to do so than to hit up some Caribbean fare without getting your passport stamped. A couple of weeks ago when temps dipped low, I headed over to Ja’ Grill in Chicago’s historic Hyde Park neighborhood.
Ja’ Grill is a restaurant/lounge which is
serving up authentic Jamaican cuisine near the University of Chicago campus. I hopped the CTA Red Line to the Garfield stop (55th St) and then I boarded the #55 Garfleld bus east to Blackstone Ave. From there, I walked just 3 1/2 blocks north to Ja’ Grill. The # 171 U Of Chicago bus and the Metra electric line also have stops within a few blocks of the restaurant.
I arrived late in the afternoon and bellied up to the bar. I decided to sample a couple of items off of the menu which is filled with various curries, jerk items, patties and other Jamaican specialties. Here’s how my lunch went down:
Although Jamaica is known for beef patties, I decided to try this curried chicken patty. The flavors in the chicken curry were spot on and the dough for the batter was buttery and crunchy. It was piping hot and I should have ordered another to-go. Lesson learned.
Since this was my first time to Ja’ Grill, I decided to go with the jerk shrimp dish because nothing says ‘Jamaica’ to me more than jerk cuisine and seafood. Each jerk entree comes with your protein of choice, escovitch (a spicy, vinegar-based or pickled marinade) cabbage + carrots, fried plantains, as well as rice and beans. It’s a very generous plate of food. 10 or 12 nice sized, shrimp took center stage. Very nice!
All of the flavors I wanted that day were represented really well on this plate. I’ll admit, I could’ve taken more heat in the spice here but I would definitely order this again. I was satisfied. Maybe, I’ll ask for some extra hot sauce next time 🙂
Ja’ Grill has wonderful cocktails and an extensive rum list which represents several Caribbean islands. I decided to go with this mojito which was awesome! Big shout out and thanks to Melanie, my bartender! She took good care of me.
A huge mural of Bob Marley anchors the intimate dining room at Ja’ Grill. Island tunes set the mood and weekend DJs are on hand to spin more transporting beats. I look forward to spending some more dark, winter days here with friends.
Ja’ Grill is located at 1510 E. Harper Ct. It is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Red Line, the #55 Garfield bus, #171 U Of Chicago bus or Metra to Ja’ Grill. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!