And when it comes to vegetables, the menu's Veggie Chunks sounds uninspiring, but at the Jerk Hut, this stewed dish is anything but. A nod to the vegetarian lifestyle of the island's Rastafarians, Veggie Chunks is served as a variation on the theme every Tuesday. On my visit, chunks of pineapple and small pieces of chicken-tasting soy, served in a brown sauce with a multitude of veggies, put the rich and satisfying stew on the sweet side. Its flavor and texture would please both meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike.

Lyew tells me that growing up in Jamaica, he used to go to Elsha Beach, near Kingston, where he would wait for a fishing boat to come to shore, pick a fish from the day's catch, and watch as a child would run it up to a nearby stall to have it cooked. This memory, he says, is the inspiration behind the Jerk Hut's must-try Fish and Festival.

Unlike the restaurant's other ready-to-eat menu items, the fish, a whole red snapper, requires 30 minutes to cook and can be prepared in a multitude of styles — including jerk, curry, and brown stew. But you'll want to order it as escovitch, a style brought by Spanish Jews who arrived in Jamaica during Spain's reign over the island and found on homestyle menus throughout the island. The fish, fried to perfection, is marinated in a vinegary concoction that will leave your tongue tingling. And the festival (the accompanying bread) cuts the acidic taste of the fish with its sweet flavor.

The Jerk Hut's small selection of traditional dishes delivers big on Jamaican flavors.
Jackie Mercandetti
The Jerk Hut's small selection of traditional dishes delivers big on Jamaican flavors.

Location Info


Jerk Hut Jamaican Grille

4115 N. 19th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85015

Category: Restaurant > Grill

Region: Central Phoenix


Jerk Hut Jamaican Grille
Jerk chicken: $9.95
Curry goat: $9.95
Veggie Chunks: $9.95
Fish and Festival: market price

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

The Jerk Hut's tiny interior, with a kitchen built by the owners and a handful of tables and chairs, seems appropriate given the origins of the restaurant's name. Along with a handful of happy and helpful staff, Lyew, Simms, or Forrest are usually on hand to help first-time guests find a favorite dish or a beverage selection from a cooler filled with Ting and D&G Jamaican sodas or fulfill a request for the not-on-the menu Blue Mountain coffee, made extra dreamy with a splash of coconut milk and brown sugar.

When asked about the future, Lyew says that, along with obtaining a liquor license and adding stew pea soup to the menu, it's all about using one of the most popular cooking methods for making jerk in Jamaica: oil barrel halves fired with charcoal to enhance the meat's spicy, smoky taste.

He shows me a video of the cooking method on his phone and says, "That, I think, is what's next for the Jerk Hut."

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My Voice Nation Help

A friend of mine told me about this place, so I was in the area one day and checked it out. Pretty decent spot. Only take-out here. Ordered the curry chicken roti. I was glad that they give the roti skin separate from the meat. The curry chicken was ok..I enjoyed the roti skin more than the chicken. Only will stop in again if I'm in the neighborhood and have a taste for Jamaican food.