San Antonians can experience a nice bit of Jamaican culture in the middle of Austin Highway. The Reggae Bar is a reliable, compact spot for Caribbean music and, across the street, Jamaica Jamaica Cuisine has been offering home-style, authentic West Indies food since 2011.
The restaurant, locally owned and operated, looks small and modest from the outside. Inside, it’s bright and comfortable. But know that during lunch it can fill up fast, especially with hungry personnel from Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston just down the road.
The eatery is closed Sundays and Mondays, open for lunch only on Wednesdays, and serves lunch and dinner Thursdays through Saturdays. The decor features an island theme, and images of Bob Marley adorn yellow walls tagged with signatures. In fact, the walls are so filled with signatures you’d probably be better off tagging the ceiling — and the employees can help with that.
Employees may also dance a bit while Jamaican music plays in the background; overall, the service is friendly and welcoming.
And the food? It’s amazing. The traditional dishes and appetizers — such as ox tail, curry chicken, and jerk chicken — are hits for newcomers and regular customers alike. You can get a nice sized regular entree or go with a small entree.
The sides, such as coco bread, roti, cabbage, and plantains, are also typically on point. Homemade beverages like mango peach tea and ginger beer make choosing a drink a fun challenge. The food is not terribly inexpensive, but considering the flavorful dishes, portions, beverages, and easygoing atmosphere, the cost is well worth it.
The owner has plans to move the restaurant to a larger strip center across Austin Highway before the end of this year, where parking won’t be an issue. That also means more interior space to tag the walls — and hopefully the existing ambiance and culinary magic will follow suit.