A Quick Word:
Garifuna Flava is one of only a handful of Caribbean restaurants in the city and maybe the only one that features foods from Belize. Located on the south side near the neighborhood of Englewood, Garifuna may be a trek for most people living in the city, but it is WELL WORTH the trip. I mean, where else could you try conch soup, jerk chicken, and stewed pigtails in the city? Not only is the food unique and delicious, the staff is extremely friendly and are definitely willing to walk you through several dishes until you find the one you want. Even though the location is a little far and each dish had a flaw or two, all the food was memorable; therefore, I decided on a 4 mile rating for Garifuna Flava.
What I Ate:
3-3-1 Appetizer Platter
The 3-3-1 platter was a sampler of their more popular appetizers. Each platter comes with 3 panades, 3 jerk wings, and 1 garanaches.
Panades are corn patties that are stuffed with a chopped up buffalo fish and served with a sweet vegetable sauce. The outer shell is soft and soggy rather than crisp (may be because I ordered to go). The filling is not very flavorful. I honestly only tasted the vegetable sauce which seemed like a vinegar based coleslaw to me. It may be popular, but I wasn't a big fan.
The jerk wings are simply baked chicken wings covered in a spicy jerk seasoning and sauce. The wings each include the "wing" and the "drummette", making them more filling than the sound. The spice was delicious. Not too spicy, but still typical bold, jerk flavors. A nice char taste was also present.
Finally, the garanches is the Belizean spin on a Mexican tostada. In fact, they are the exact same dish. A fried corn tortilla is topped with refried beans, lettuce, cheese, and a sweet ketchup sauce. I added salsa to the top of mine and some chicken... otherwise it is too plain. Nothing too special.
Belizean Stew Chicken
For my main entree, I decided on the Belizean stew chicken dinner. First of all, this meal is INCREDIBLE. The stewed chicken dinner comes with a half of a chicken chopped into smaller pieces and stewed with bell peppers and onion. The use a vinegar base in the stew and heavily season with paprika and pepper. The chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender and extremely moist. The flavors were unreal and everything tied well together. The dinner comes with a side of spicy cabbage, fried plantains, and rice/beans. The plantains added a nice sweetness, which contrasted the vinegary cabbage. The rice was the only disappointing part. There was a coconut flavor that dominated every bite because of the rice. If I could change one thing... just serve plain white rice please.
Stewed Beans & Pigtail
I always enjoy trying to weirdest menu item... at Garifuna, this happened to be a side order of stewed beans with pigtail. Immediately, I thought of the curly pig tail seen in children's books. When the dish arrived, I was surprised to see more of a cartilaginous tail that reminded me of a turkey neck from Thanksgiving. Anyway, the pigtail was stewed with Belizean spiced beans. The pig tail had a little meat, but was mostly fat and skin. It had a stronger pork flavor, which is a little overwhelming. I could never eat a full meal of pigtails, but it was definitely worth trying.
Belizean Milk Cake
For dessert, I tried a piece of the milk cake... it is a pound cake that is covered in a thick caramel sauce. The cake was nothing special. But, the caramel on top adding the necessary sweetness to make me think dessert. It was more on the dense side of the spectrum. I would probably share a slice with someone else, otherwise, it would be too much.
- They have a free parking lot attached to the side of the restaurant. If that is packed, plenty of street parking.
- They sometimes serve food at the K Alta building in the city. This way you don't have to drive to Englewood to experience Belizean cuisine.
- I wasn't too impressed with appetizers. So my suggestion: Don't order these dishes, just save room for more entrees or side orders.
How far would I walk for this food?