Ja' Grill | Hyde Park | Jamaican, Bar/Lounge, Caribbean, DJ /Dance Bar | Restaurant

Ja' Grill Recommended Menu

Hours: Lunch, dinner: seven days
Open late: Thursday-Saturday till 11; lounge till 2 Fridays and Saturdays

Price: $$

Home-style Jamaican food, transplanted from the original Lincoln Park location.

Restaurant Details

Rogers Park, Chatham, Maywood—all areas whose lucky residents have easy access to excellent home-style island food. Now Hyde Park does too. Ja’ Grill chef Errol Gallimore, who came here from Jamaica in 1992, learned to cook from his mother and did time in south-side restaurants before he was tapped to run the kitchen at this comfortable barstaurant. The few faults I found with his food don’t seem to be a result of underestimating the neighborhood’s tastes. Jerk chicken, accompanied by a sharp, vinegary jerk sauce in hot or mild, was passable, but it just didn’t have the ethereal smokiness and juiciness of its counterpart at, say, Tropic Island. And stewed chicken was a bit dry despite its nice dark brown stew sauce. But the seafood dishes I tried were terrific: a grouper escoveitch piled with julienned vegetables was biting and fruity, jerk catfish had the smokiness and spice the chicken lacked, and a murky fish soup with pumpkin, cho cho (chayote), and house-made dumplings had a powerful kick. My favorite dish, though, was the simple, soft cabbage and carrots steamed in coconut milk. The owner, Tony Coates, stopped by our table to encourage us to suck every scrap of deliriously rich meat off the oxtails—not like we needed the extra motivation. On Friday and Saturday nights the place is bumping, with a DJ in the downstairs lounge and revelers drinking up the house rum punch, made with three kinds of rum and tropical juices.

Mike Sula

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Price: $$

Payment Type: American Express, MasterCard, Visa

Bar Details

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