Sunday, May 16, 2010

Favorite Things- Garifuna Flava Restaurant

Ok, so this week's featured spot isn't in Hyde Park, but it is one of the best restaurants I've been to on the south side, and so I think it deserves a shout out.

Mr. Hyde Park and I were feeling like something different and wanted to stay on the south side, so we did a little research and came across Garifuna Flava (2516-2518 W 63rd St), a Caribbean and Belizean/Garifuna restaurant with rave reviews on Yelp. The place, which has developed somewhat of a cult following, is known especially for its jerk chicken, but has a full menu of authentic Caribbean seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes.

Garfuna Flava (2516 W. 63rd)
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The restaurant is at Western and 63rd, so it's just a quick drive west from Hyde Park. The neighborhood is a bit rougher around the edges than what some Hyde Parkers may be used to, but we parked in the lot right next to the restaurant and never felt uncomfortable or unsafe. We went on a Friday night last month at 7ish and the place was completely empty except for one other group. I always feel a little uncomfortable going into a restaurant that's near empty, especially when I've never been there before or I'm not that familiar with the cuisine (I worry it'll be too obvious we don't know what we're doing...). The server we had, though, went out of his way to make us feel comfortable, explaining the menu, telling us a little about the Garifuna culture, and giving us recommendations about what to try.
Half Jerk Chicken w/ Spicy Jerk Sauce
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We ordered conch fritters (which were really fresh and flavorful) to start and then both got the jerk chicken which is, hands down, the best jerk chicken--maybe even the best chicken, period-- I have ever had. (Yes, better than at Calypso Cafe...) The seasoning was on point, the meat was juicy, and it was spicy but not so hot that we couldn't taste the other complex spices. It comes with a delicious gravy/hot sauce that was so tasty I could drink it (according to the waiter, the kid at the table next to us did, in fact, drink a few little cups of it...) The jerk chicken I've had in the past, including at Calypso, often seems to have an artificial liquid-smoke taste to it, but this just tasted really fresh and tangy, with a rich natural smokiness. We had TONS of food (and Belizean beer) and, considering the quality of what we got, it was extremely affordable.
Red Snapper Dinner w/ Rice & Beans, Plantain & Potato Salad
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As I mentioned above, the restaurant-- in spite of it's delicious fresh food and amazing service-- was pretty empty on a weekend night at a prime dinner hour. This makes me really sad because this type of home-grown, mom and pop business is really great for the neighborhood and the south side in general. I worry that a gem like this will not survive if people don't go out of their way to support it. With that said, I urge you to take the little trip and check it out. If you like it, tell Yelp, tell your friends, tweet about it, and do whatever you can to spread the word.


  1. It sounds like it's well worth the trip, even from Beverly.

  2. We spent time in the Caribbean this summer and jerk chicken is ok. I am not so sure it's my favorite by any means. Not bad.

  3. I would like to visit there must as soon as possible.Post is really great .

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