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The jerk chicken is spicy-sweet, tangy, and oh-so tender. Image courtesy Facebook

At the time of purchase, my weather app informed me it was an unforgiving 101 — with a less favorable heat index of 106. Not the ideal Fahrenheit level to be eating cuisine built around curry and spice, especially when indoor dining doesn’t exist as the result of a to-go only business adaptation to COVID. Alas, here I was standing at the ordering window inside (which is air-conditioned) of a Caribbean restaurant resembling a beach shack minus clear waters and white sandy shores.

Pastel colors and hand-painted signs cover the exterior wood siding of the bungalow that now houses Jamaican Summers Eatery, an unlikely dining option in its sixth year in the heart of old downtown Burleson. Chef/owner Richard Williams came to New Jersey from Jamaica before making his way to Texas and flipping a coffee shop into his own slice of home. On my recent visit, the upstroke of reggae guitar with the rhythmic rumble of bass from dancehall underlined the “One Love” vibe affectionately associated with the island. Signs with praises to the lord share space with buyable souvenirs toting ganja and a small cooler filled with Red Stripe, ginger beer, and various Jamaican sodas.

Pork is another popular dish at Jamaican Summers.
Image courtesy Facebook

The menu is small but focused on traditional items and, to be fair, the extent of my experience with Caribbean food. Other than paying a couple of visits to The Island Spot in Carrolton a decade ago, my limited exposure is held to jerk chicken-flavored wings from fast-food joints.

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This being my first visit, I allowed the order taker to guide my appetite. We skipped the sweet fried plantains and coco bread and went with the beef patty, a tasty cousin to the empanada with minced meat filling and a flaky golden crust.

Keeping with the recommendations, I opted for the small jerk chicken and the curry goat. I was fully expecting to eat my dinner outside on the back patio in the shade since there was a mellow breeze holding down the mercury, but when I heard my name called, my order was already bagged up. Living less than 20 minutes away, I knew my dinner’s shelf life might be short, so I booked it north and recognized an opportunity that presented itself back home, where I keep my, a’hem, organic remedies. Knowing taste buds are extra alert in an elevated state, I ate enough soberly to recognize the greatness before me. Then I inhaled.

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the actual flavor of jerk chicken, but when I gnawed a chunk of tender meat off the bone, it was a revelation. Now, finally, I could say I tasted the flavors of the Caribbean as they were meant to be. The spicy-sweet tang and smoky kick only swelled with each additional bite, and I was unabashedly hooked.

Considered an island delicacy, the goat retained its muskiness, as intended, while being complemented by the zesty curry gravy.
Image courtesy Facebook

With taste buds fully engaged, I swapped bites back and forth between the jerk chicken and curried goat, an island delicacy that offered an entirely different flavor profile. The zesty curry gravy offset the goaty-ness of the meat that still retained a slightly sweet muskiness as intended. Served attached to the knuckles, the meat easily pulled away, and I even found myself eyeing the glistening fat clinging to one of the knuckles, so I owned it like a lollipop. Take the dish into another direction by ordering the buttery roti flatbread, then add lumps of the goat meat and cabbage into the fold and treat it like a gyro.

Not too often do I leave a restaurant immediately feeling inspired. I’m desperate to get back. First on my list is the spicy, creamy penne pasta with jerk shrimp, and, while I might not be vacationing at the birthplace of Bob Marley anytime soon, I now have a place where I can bathe in the sunny influence of the island. It just happens to be in old-town Burleson. Is this love?

 

Jamaican Summers Eatery

217 W Renfro St, Burleson

817-759-9969

Wed-Sat 3pm-8pm

 

Jamaican Summers Eatery
Small jerk chicken $12.99
Curry goat $19.99
Beef patty $4.25
Coco bread $1.75

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