Watching a restaurant grow and morph over the course of several years is something most of us have experienced. Sometimes your favorite restaurant is like being in a relationship of sorts. When you first dine there everything is new and exciting. You find yourself daydreaming about the subtle seasonings used in that one appetizer that you just could not get enough of on your last visit. You count the days until you eat there again. After the initial infatuation wears off, you keep coming back for the comfortable familiarity of knowing what to expect and not getting any unwelcomed surprises along the way.
My personal favorite true test of a restaurant relationship is when you are on the home stretch of a long road trip or wrapping up a particularly difficult week at work and you just want to sit down to a good meal with no surprises and have someone serve it to you properly. Such was the case on my last visit to Tropical Flava. As the miles rolled up on my odometer, my mind started reeling off the places where I could get exactly what I wanted and have a “Ahhh, I needed that!” moment once my forward motion finally ceased. After exhausting my list of favorite places on my short list, it hit me! I wanted escoveitched Fish, with fried plantains, red beans & rice and “oh yeah, throw in a side of that homemade Mac & Cheese”. As with any good relationship, I knew I could count on Tropical Flava to deliver with a dining experience that would be exactly what I expected. The owner brings perfection to everything his restaurant represents. Great care is put into creating a warm and welcoming environment where the food is always up to the Chef’s high standard and the staff knows there is an artist at work in the kitchen. With a recent health food inspection score of a perfect 100% the owner’s passion for cleanliness is well evidenced.
After spending the last 20 miles of bad road thinking about all the savory details of my last meal at Tropical Flava I was near salivating when my escoveitched Snapper arrived at the table. This particular entrée entails scaling and marinating in special Caribbean exotic spices and flash frying a whole Snapper with the head still on. My love for that dish was instantly renewed upon the first bite of the perfectly seasoned and crispy outside and the juicy, flaky white meat inside. Eating a whole fried Snapper is not for the faint of heart or the lite of appetite. I demolished the entrée with the gusto befitting a hungry Jamaican. When the owner came by to check on the quality of my meal he took one look at the cleanly picked snapper bones and gave me a knowing smile and nod of approval. I’m not sure if the side dish of Mac & Cheese is another Caribbean authentic dish, but man it is good no matter where you call home. I always order an extra side dish of the fried plantains; because once you taste just one I guarantee you will want more!
I highly recommend you consider starting a restaurant relationship with Tropical Flava. Over the years they have consistently provided excellent food that is some of the most authentic Caribbean food you can get without a plane or a boat. The menu is varied enough that seafood and meat lovers can find something to get passionate about. They even offer a vegetable patty for lunch that is pretty darn good, not as good as the meat or seafood ones, but that is a non-vegetarian’s opinion.
As I got back behind the drivers wheel, feeling 100 miles lighter and 5 pounds heavier I did get my “Ahhh, I needed that” moment. Thank you Tropical Flava!
2396 Ingleside Ave.
Price Range: $$
Outdoor Seating: no
Family Friendly: yes
Live Music: no