Nick’s Picks: Catch a taste of the Caribbean at Jamaica House

Illustration by Killian Goodale-Porter

Nicholas Barahona, Staff Writer

Welcome to Nick’s Picks.

Join me, Nick Barahona, on our journey through the city of Richmond where I review and showcase the different cuisines and restaurants in close proximity to campus, from the lens of a VCU student. I welcome you to an exciting time ahead filled with great deals and good eats.

This week we take our palates on a journey down to the Caribbean as we check out Jamaica House, a restaurant that has been proudly serving the Richmond community for the past 28 years.

Jamaica House was first founded on West Broad Street in 1994, and moved a few blocks away from its original location two years ago. Currently located at 416 W. Broad St., it is a 10 minute walk from Monroe Park.

Owner Carena Ives said she founded Jamaica House because of her desire to establish a vibrant Caribbean taste in Richmond, which she felt there was none of at the time of the restaurant’s opening. Being of Chinese and Afro-Jamaican ancestry, Ives was also inspired by her roots and her mother’s cooking.

Jamaica House offers ample space for customers to dine, and exudes a vibrant Caribbean atmosphere with bright yellow walls. They also provide outdoor seating, with two to three tables and chairs out front. 

I really enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and service at Jamaica House. Walking into the restaurant an hour before closing, I was surprised to see it crowded and buzzing with orders. Despite the craze, the host was patient and warm, even cracking a couple of jokes as he helped me decide what to get. 

Ives said the restaurant’s mission is providing the best hospitality.  

“We want customers to walk through those doors and feel welcomed and at home with their experience here at Jamaica House,” Ives said. 

There are a wide variety of food options available at Jamaica House, including soups, salads, paninis, burgers, seafood, freshly pressed juice and desserts. For a few of the appetizers and almost all of the main entrees, it has small and large portion options to choose from that usually differ between three and four dollars. Main entrees such as the jerk chicken, oxtail, island fried chicken, curry goat and pepper steak are all served with two sides that consist either of rice and peas, white rice, stewed cabbage, or salad. 

I ordered a small jerk chicken entree for $8 that included rice and peas and stewed cabbage. I also ordered a beef patty and coco bread side that both sat around $2 each. In total, my meal came out to be about $13 before tip, which is relatively inexpensive for an entree and two sides.

The jerk chicken was bursting with flavor and juice with every bite. The entire plate tasted fresh and complemented each other well. Getting some rice with a bit of the stewed cabbage and the chicken all together made for an excellent bite. This dish left me satisfied but also sweating, as it had a bit of heat behind the flavor; I would especially recommend it for those who love spicy food.

The beef patty was probably one of my favorite parts of the entire meal, as it was also flavorful and went well with the ground beef and flaky bread. The coco bread was a nice side for the spicy chicken and reminded me of Hawaiian bread, but slightly less sweet.

I asked owner Ives what she recommends to anyone wanting to try Jamaica House for the first time, and she said there was “no need to complicate it,” and to come in and try one of their beef patties and freshly pressed limeade.

Jamaica House may have just found itself another regular at their restaurant after my experience. With their good vibes, fair pricing and large quantity of food, this is an easy thumbs up and 5 out of 5 for me. Catch me there soon grabbing an oxtail entree, cheeky veggie patty and a freshly pressed drink to go with it all.

As always, eat up!

For all things food, feel free to check out @nxreview on Instagram and TikTok for many more recommendations and reviews around town.

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