Caribbean Grill sits in a ragtag strip center behind the IMAX theater off LBJ Freeway and Webb Chapel Road. It’s hard to believe it’s been there eight years, serving island basics like curried goat and conch fritters. But the success of this funky (though clean-swept) hideaway, splashed in Miami Vice expanses of aqua, mulberry, and gold, comes as much from its role as a community hangout as its tropical cuisine.
“Rum and relaxation” said the slogan on the menu—a sentiment echoed by the presence of pool tables, the patio out front, and signs proclaiming live reggae on selected Fridays. Inside, regulars camped at the bar, beers standing by their thick pressed Cuban sandwiches with ham, pork, and Monterey jack cheese, and bowls of mac and cheese, baked, extra cheese if you please.

Entrées felt homey. Jerk chicken had a big pile of three drumsticks and three thighs, the dark meat stained darker with a spicy-hot marinade and made ultra tender from a bout of long, slow cooking. Coconut shrimp had a nice sweet streak in its crusty golden coating; saffron rice and some oily cabbage came on the side.

After a couple of hours, it’s possible to forget where you are. So it’s not exactly Jamaica. But it’s not Dallas, either.

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