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Quick Look: Incredible Seafood And The Best Cake Ever At Garifuna Flava

By Melissa McEwen in Food on Apr 15, 2015 2:20PM

Kingfish and coconut (photo by Melissa McEwen)

"Did you hear about us because of him?" said our waiter as he pointed to a large poster. It was the infamous and much skewered Guy Fieri.

We heard about Garifuna Flava (2518 W. 63rd St.) on the internet, but for all the silliness of Guy Fieri's persona and garishness of most of his recipes, he has to be credited for choosing some excellent restaurants like this one to promote.

Garifuna Flava is one of a few restaurants in Chicago serving the cuisine of the Garifuna, descendants from indigenous people of Caribbean and African slaves. Many Garifuna live in Central America, but there is a substantial diaspora in some American cities. The is island soul food based on tropical staples like fish, coconut, cassava and plantains.

Panades (photo by Melissa McEwen)

Crispy conch fritters are reminiscent of hush puppies but have gems of the sea-briny and escargot-like sea snail meat mixed into them. Another popular appetizer option is panades— corn fritters filled with buffalo fish, which tastes a bit like brandade made from cattish.

Kingfish and coconut soup served with hudut (photo by Melissa McEwen)

Hudut is the equivalent of grits or mashed potatoes in Garifuna cuisine— a starch used to absorb delicious fats. But rather than corn or potato, hudut is made of mashed plantains and while grits are drowned with butter, this is used to scoop up dishes like falumou, a rich coconut, black pepper and oregano broth filled with tender kingfish.

Jerk chicken (photo by Melissa McEwen)

Then there is the briskly spicy jerk chicken, a crowd-pleaser that practically melts of the bones served with silky braised cabbage, rice and fried plantains.

Sweet potato cake (photo by Melissa McEwen)

But make sure not to miss dessert— one of the best cakes I've ever had has to be their sweet potato cake, a soft pillowy cinnamon-tinged delight topped with a light glaze. It's the kind of cake you dream about.

Whether you are following in Guy Fieri's footsteps or just looking for really delicious home-cooked food, Garifuna Flava is certainly worth a visit.