First Taste

Jerk Hut Is Your New Favorite Jamaican Grill

When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions. Share a few photos, some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Jerk Hut Jamaican Grille Location: 4115 North 19th Avenue Open: Two months. Eats: Jamaican Price point: $11 - $30

If you've driven on 19th Avenue just north of Indian School Road lately, it's hard to miss the bright yellow strip-mall storefront of Jerk Hut Jamaican Grille. Open for about two months, the tiny restaurant's offerings of Jamaican eats, ordered and served at the counter, comes courtesy of Trevor Forrest, a first-time Valley restaurant owner from Kingston, Jamaica.

Let's take a bite, shall we?

Forrest's menu of Jamaican favorites may be small, but when it comes to portion sizes, prepare to share or take the remainder to go.

There is a satisfying oxtail stew with chunks of tender beef -- some still wrapped around the bones -- and tasty potatoes tinged with Jamaican spices and served over brown or white rice. Equally as good, and more on the spicy side, is the curried goat. It, too, is served over brown or white rice and features chunks of meat (again, some with a few bones), peppers, and those wonderful potatoes.

Both dishes are fill-you-up-fast and can be had with a choice of sweet plantains or veggies. And when Forrest asks if you would like additional gravy over your rice, the answer is yes.

The Jerk Hut is small and tidy, carries a cooler full of Jamaican soft drinks, and makes the best use of its space by placing seating in all available spots. The affable Forrest is typically manning the counter, holding up the lids of chaffing dishes so guests can ogle the wares and making meal suggestions for first-time customers.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the Jerk Hut and can't wait to return -- especially to try Forrest's Fish & Festival, a whole snapper prepared as-you-like-it and served with sweet bread.

Jerk Hut Jamaican Grille 4115 North 19th Avenue 602-279-8444 Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

What say you, Jamaican jerk lovers? Have you been to the Jerk Hut yet? What did you think?