You only have to travel as far south as Ocean City, Md. to get a taste of authentic Jamaican food. Ocho Rios is a recently opened, tiny storefront tucked behind the 7-11 at the corner of 120th and Coastal Highway. As you might expect, the place is VERY informal, and when we visited, the owner came out to take our order (no, he had no idea I was writing about the place). The menu, like the food, is colorful yet simple.
We started with the Ocho Rios Wings. We got the Jerk seasoning and it was quite good, though I would have liked the wings to have been served a bit more (temperature) hot. But they smelled so good that we just went ahead and dug in. [see them in the gallery.] The starter menu also offers a very tempting Yardie Jerk Shrimp (“Yardie” is Jamaican slang meaning something like “posse”. It's also used within the Caribbean expatriate community, to refer to persons of Jamaican origin.) It looked great and we're starting with that next time. There are 5 apps on the menu.
When I saw “Festivals” on the menu, it caught my eye. I have had them before on a couple of Caribbean cruises and as simple as they are, they are simply delicious. Nothing more than dumplings, really, made with cornmeal. But a hint of sweetness and the creamy texture is immediately habit-forming. Get them. Trust me. Get a visual in the gallery!
Our mains were the Jerk Chicken entree and the Original Curry Chicken (also available with shrimp). The Jerk Chicken is marinated in jerk sauce and then grilled. It's served with rice and … peas – note that in Jamaica “peas” means “beans.” And the combination was perfect. The curry dish was served with flavorful potatoes and scallions with white rice. They also offer the traditional Jamaican Oxtail which we plan to get on our second visit.
Spice wimps beware! This place is full of flavor – not necessarily “pepper hot,” but with deeply savory tastes. If you are fearful of upbeat flavors and spices, you might want to pass on this one (or just order the Festivals … those are truly great).
Ocho Rios is at 11805 Coastal Highway – but don't expect to see it. Just turn into the 7-11 and drive around back. Check out more info and goodies HERE.
They do not have a FB page as yet. You can call to check their hours at 443-664-7275.