Jerk Chicken News
Island Spot restaurant brings Dallas more Jamaican joy with new location
If you're of the belief that Dallas-Fort Worth does not have enough places to get jerk chicken, then there's good news from The Island Spot: This Jamaican restaurant concept with locations in Carrollton and Oak Cliff is expanding, with a new location in the works for Farmers Branch, at 12900 Josey Ln.
Their goal is to open on Jamaican Independence Day, August 6, depending on construction and permitting.
Island Spot specializes in Jamaican food and tropical cocktails, particularly those made with Jamaica's trademark spirit, rum. Jerk chicken is the star of the menu but they also offer oxtail, coconut shrimp, BBQ ribs, and plantains, as well as a variety of curry plates including shrimp, goat, tilapia, chicken, and tofu — a result of a strong Indian influence on the island, says owner Richard Thomas.
A native of Jamaica and former consultant for McKinsey, Thomas opened the first Island Spot in Carrollton, at 2661 Midway Rd. #105, in 2010, followed by a second location in Oak Cliff, at 309 W. Jefferson Blvd. in 2016.
"The first time I came to Dallas, I visited a Jamaican restaurant, no longer open," he says. "The food and space were so underwhelming. I realized there was an opportunity to do good, authentic Jamaican food here. I wanted to change the way people experience our food and our culture."
That includes creating an immersive decor, with a colorful design that replicates the feeling of a restaurant in Jamaica, featuring elements such as corrugated zinc, bamboo columns, and wooden walls.
Placemats include an explanation of key words that are part of the menu, some in Patois, the language spoken preponderantly in Jamaica.
The bar is two-fold, incorporating a regular bar with a full drink menu, as well as a rum bar with 40-plus rum brands from the Caribbean. Rum is served solo, in rum flights, and in signature rum-punch cocktails, often in beautifully exotic colors. Of course, there is Red Stripe beer, brewed in Kingston, Jamaica.
Thomas grew up in a modest neighborhood in Jamaica, and his mom did all the cooking. To recreate that childhood experience, he put her together with a consulting chef to create a menu and bring it to life. All locations have a "mom Joyce’s kitchen" sign, to honor her influence.
Some of their dishes boast a fun twist, like their jerk version of salmon topped with a mango-red pepper chutney, or their "Jamaican fried chicken," highly spiced and with a golden brown crust. They're open for lunch and dinner, and also do a festive weekend brunch with mango mimosas.
But the experience is about more than flavorful food. "My intention is to create a true cultural immersion that makes a visit fun and exciting," Thomas says.