Reggae Hut

I’ve been coming to this Jamaican themed venue since I moved to Houston. The Jerk dishes here rival anything I’ve had elsewhere. I’m not sure if the people creating the dishes are of Jamaican origin but that might not be relevant to the net effect, which is extremely spicy, flavourful dishes of Jerk, Curry and Garlic something; the somethings are usually chicken, shrimp, oxtail and red snapper.

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Atmosphere
Reggae Hut is a super casual venue along the quietly popular Almeda Corridor in the Museum District. Its decently-sized holding about 40 people and there are several large tables for groups of 8. The mostly dark tones are offset by accent walls with vivid, almost dayglo, tributes to the island. On occasion, a small corner of the space will transform into a makeshift stage and there will be a singer usually playing guitar, keyboards or something along the lines of steel drums. In the absence of live music you can be guaranteed a constant stream of mixed reggae music spanning many decades.

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Food
There are two items I order here more than others – Beef Patties and Jerk Chicken. Beef Patties are basically plus-sized empanadas. There are other varieties here like the chicken and veggie patties but I find the beef are the most flavourful. The filling is onion and garlic dominant with a light dusting of allspice and nutmeg. The casing is buttery and flaky with a light crunch, like a pie crust, only more savory. Before chomping into your patty, definitely survey the choices of hot sauce on the front counter. They are all hot. And I mean scotch bonnet hot, expect for the Calypso Sauce which registers in the mildly amusing habanero-hot range and has some pleasant curry undercurrents. I usually mix the Calypso (yellow sauce) with one of the seriously hot sauces.

The Jerk Chicken is extraordinary with its fiery Scotch Bonnet heat and flavours that span the allspice-nutmeg-garlic-lime-onion-garlic spectrum, all pleasantly assaulting your tongue simultaneously. The chicken is bone-in, skin-off pieces, typically you will get three – leg, thigh and breast. Its difficult to distinguish the flavours of the sauce from the chicken, since its obviously slow-cooked for a long time, letting the chicken absorb every bit of the seasoning. The lot is served with steamed veggies and dirty rice (rice with some beans). I dare you to eat the whole thing, go on.

Service
Its an counter-order, table-delivery experience. Usually the service here is speedy, 10-15 minutes,  and very personable. The caveat being when several large groups descend at once – the kitchen is fairly small and cramped – so when that happens, orders can take upwards of 30 minutes.

Price
Its reasonable considering you are taking home some leftovers. Beef Patty $3, Jerk Chicken $15

If you are in the Houston area and looking for a casual, fun environment, spicy island flavour and a bill that won’t cause a second mortgage, Reggae Hut is a good choice away from the glitterati further north in Midtown. Having contracted Reggae Hut to cater a party before, I can also add they get the job done right and are both reasonably price and easy collaborators.

Lunch: November 2014

Reggae Hut | 4814 Almeda | HTX 77004

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