Tag Archives: Belize

Authentic taste of Garifuna culture at Garifuna Flava

Belize garifuna-flagGarifuna Flava (2518 W 63rd St, Chicago, IL) had been on “our to-eat” list for such a long time! there was another Belizean restaurant on Howard (Tickie’s – now Redz) but it did not feature the unique cuisine of the Garifuna coastal culture of Belize. Garifuna culture, centered on the Caribbean coast of Belize, is a blend of African and Indigenous Caribbean influences, which manifests itself in a totally unique cuisine. When we dined in, the place was doing a brisk takeout service, and it also seemed the place was a favorite of cops, which tends to be a good sign, since they know all the local food options.

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For appetizers we got Panades, corn fritters stuffed with curried fish, which was definitely unusual, and spoke to the West Indian influence in Garifuna food. We also heard good things about the guacamole with plantain chips, so we had to give them a try (how could we resist). Also on offer were conch fritters, which we had sampled at other Caribbean joints. For mains, there were a variety of stews (beer, chicken and oxtail) and jerk dishes. Unique fish dishes rounded out the selection, including conch soup and Hudut Baruru with Falumou, a king fish soup with coconut milk and a side of hudut, a plantain mash that is used like fufu in African cuisines. Another feature we were fans of, was the lunch special for less than $7 you got a main, a side (choice of pigeon peas, plantains, rice and beans or cabbage) soup and salad. We selected the jerk chicken and the chicken stew from the lunch specials.

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There was such an insane amount of food with the lunch specials, that the pleasant server brought it over on a cart, nay, a 2-level cart. Chicken soup, salad, a huge cup of rice – along with a generous helping of stewed chicken and jerk chicken. Everything was delicious and made from scratch, and we were surprised by the mild and nuanced flavors. For dessert we had to have the sweet potato cake – even though we were already pretty stuffed, and it was worth it – the cake was moist and spicy!

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We washed down the meal with a spicy ginger soda and a passion fruit smoothie. It definitely felt like we were in the tropics, especially given the 90 degree weather outside. Garifuna Flava is an excellent place to get a taste of an underrepresented cuisine – we’ll definitely be back to try more of the menu.

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A New Place for: Garifuna Food

garifuna_flag I know about Garifuna culture primarily through my interest in Punta music, and the food sounds equally as amazing! Garifuna culture is an Afro-Latin and Amerindian culture primarily centered in Belize and Honduras. However, short of going to Central America, I figured I would never be able to taste Garifuna food for myself. But, as this post might indicate, there’s a new place in Chicago where you do just that, Garifuna Flava (2516 W. 63rd, Chicago, IL). The food is a mixture of unique soups and stews often featuring fish, and an array of Belizean / Caribbean favorites like tostones. The Reader did a piece on Garifuna Flava, and it seemed very positive. [Update: Check out our review here]  As a bonus, the Reader has a list of other Caribbean places in Chicago

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Belize 1: Tickie’s Belizean Restaurant [closed]

BelizeTickie’s (7605 N. Paulina, Chicago, IL), now in its tenth year, isn’t really a place you would think of taking a long L ride to get to, with a Spartan atmosphere with only a few turquoise seating booths. But it may be your only good shot at Belizean cuisine in the city, and you really get your money’s worth. Tickie’s serves good, flavorful Caribbean cuisine to a group of steady (and predominantly take-out) regulars, but the Eaters felt right at home. While we studied the hand-written menu hanging over the back wall, we got helpful suggestions from another customer.

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“Try the dukunno,” she said – a small cornmeal tamale with a taste and consistency not different from a very moist cornbread. The cornhusk wrapped dukunno’s sweetness contrasted nicely with our larger chicken tamale, a good blend of savory masa, spices, and well-seasoned on-the-bone chicken. That amount of food would have been enough, but being the adventurers we are, we had to order as many different dishes as we could. Rice and beans with chicken was next, the spices there mimicking the chicken tamale, but the plate was finished off with a grilled plantain and a sweet potato salad.

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We also had conch fritters with a unexpectedly spicy sauce (the shellfish was new to M) to round out the meal. Dessert was a tiny orange-colored coconut tart, a good and tasty finish to our spicy, sweet, and savory meal. The bill for this feast? $17. It sure felt like Belize to us, from the food to the friendly ambiance, so our next visit to the Howard stop will probably include a small detour to Tickie’s.

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