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Afro-Belizean at Garifuna Flava

Afro-Belizean at Garifuna Flava
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  • Afro-Belizean at Garifuna Flava

    Post #1 - May 31st, 2009, 6:49 pm
    Post #1 - May 31st, 2009, 6:49 pm Post #1 - May 31st, 2009, 6:49 pm
    Garifuna Flava opened almost exactly one year ago. I'm sorry I waited so long for my first visit. It's a terrific restaurant in every way—interesting menu, well-prepared food, nice people.

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    The Garinagu (plural of Garifuna) are descended from West African slaves shipwrecked in the early 18th century. They lived on Saint Vincent and intermarried with Carib and Arawak Indians until they were exiled to the Caribbean coast of Central America. A sizable fraction of the half million Garinagu currently reside in Belize. They have their own distinct language, music and dance as well as a characteristic cuisine incorporating elements of African and Caribbean cooking.

    We started with a variety of typical Belizean appetizers.

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    Panades are fried corn turnovers stuffed with beans and fish, seasoned with curry-like spices. Conch fritters were very well prepared though perhaps a bit light on the conch. The yellowish puree at the top of the plate is ducunu, grated fresh corn mixed with coconut milk and spices, then steamed in a foil packet. Don't miss it. All this was accompanied by a cabbage slaw and pickled onions with diced Scotch bonnet peppers (hot!). Simply a great plate of food.

    We then sampled garnaches, crisp tortillas topped with beans, slaw, shredded cheese and ketchup(!).

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    This actually worked quite a bit better than one might think and was further improved with a few dashes of Marie Sharp's carrot and habanero salsa. Even so, this was probably the only item I wouldn't order again.

    Our main course was hudut, a classic Garifuna dish. This consisted of a large red snapper head in a beautiful, subtle coconut broth. A small mountain of pounded plantains (the hudut itself) was served separately. This is a variant of fufu and clearly shows the influence of West Africa on Garifuna cuisine. I'm usually not a huge fan of fufu but thought the hudut was excellent.

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    There was no room for dessert but they do their baking in house, making treats like cassava cake and coconut tarts. Garifuna Flava has a full bar. On Friday and Saturday they are open to 2am. I'm not entirely certain but I think they sometimes have live music or a DJ. Garifuna music is something special so this could be well worth looking into. Great place, highly recommended.

    Garifuna Flava
    2516 W 63rd St
    Chicago
    773-776-7440
    Sun & Tue-Thu 11am-8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2am
  • Post #2 - May 31st, 2009, 7:09 pm
    Post #2 - May 31st, 2009, 7:09 pm Post #2 - May 31st, 2009, 7:09 pm
    What a find! I'm actually often in that neighborhood. Can't wait to try it out.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #3 - May 31st, 2009, 9:58 pm
    Post #3 - May 31st, 2009, 9:58 pm Post #3 - May 31st, 2009, 9:58 pm
    Hi,

    Great post.

    Rene G wrote:The yellowish puree at the top of the plate is ducunu, grated fresh corn mixed with coconut milk and spices, then steamed in a foil packet. Don't miss it.

    This struck initially as tamale-like, though made with sweet corn instead of corn masa. They grate the corn themselves that seems to be quite labor intensive. These are only available seasonally. We were fortunate to have some of the first available for this year.

    Rene G wrote:]A small mountain of pounded plantains (the hudut itself) was served separately. This is a variant of fufu and clearly shows the influence of West Africa on Garifuna cuisine. I'm usually not a huge fan of fufu but thought the hudut was excellent.

    It struck me as a cross between Puerto Rican mofongo and African fufu. While mofongo is made with green plantains, they used semi-ripened plantains for the hudut. Like fufu, it was expected you scooped up your soup with the mashed plantain. This potentially is a communal dish like we experienced at some African restaurants. Since it takes some practice to scoop soup, we took a modified approach: scoop some mashed plantain with your spoon, then dip into your soup.

    While we were there, the place was filling with Garinagu who are clearly supportive of this restaurant. While prepared for adventure eating, it was pleasant enough to consider returning someday for the great food and especially friendly staff.

    Garifuna Flava has parking in the adjacent lot with they had security cameras monitoring the lot. One of the televisions in the bar area was snap shots of the parking lot.

    Definitely another feather in the rather full cap of Rene G's great finds.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #4 - June 1st, 2009, 9:25 am
    Post #4 - June 1st, 2009, 9:25 am Post #4 - June 1st, 2009, 9:25 am
    FWIW, it's fufu in Cuba too (mangu in the DR). All made with green platanos. Also, mofongo is supposed to be used the same way as African fufu, to dip into a stew or soup. Though it's pretty swell by itself when heavy on the garlic and cracklings. Thanks Rene. A very interesting people and cuisine, not only Afro-Caribbean, but also with meso-American influences, making it somewhat unique. Belize also culturally bridges between the English-speaking Afro Caribbean and Latin America more than any other place I can think of. There are a fair number of Belizeans in Chicago. I don't want to generalize about a group of people, but I've liked everyone from Belize I've met.
  • Post #5 - June 1st, 2009, 12:30 pm
    Post #5 - June 1st, 2009, 12:30 pm Post #5 - June 1st, 2009, 12:30 pm
    JeffB wrote:I don't want to generalize about a group of people, but I've liked everyone from Belize I've met.


    I think this is one of the few kinds of generalizations about people that is ok, if not encouraged. :)
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #6 - June 1st, 2009, 1:50 pm
    Post #6 - June 1st, 2009, 1:50 pm Post #6 - June 1st, 2009, 1:50 pm
    I have to say this food looks a lot more interesting than what I found when I vacationed in Belize (from Belize City to San Ignacio to Cay Caulker, so it's not just an exception) -- except for some truly outstanding black bean, fried egg and flour tortilla breakfasts, it was simply prepared, modestly seasoned, often very good (especially the very fresh shrimp) but never exciting.

    Belize was (13 years ago) a travel bargain, especially if you stay away from Ambergris Key. Cay Caulker is a "no shoes, no shirt, no problem" kind of place -- most of the buildings had no floor but sand on the ground floor.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #7 - June 5th, 2009, 3:49 pm
    Post #7 - June 5th, 2009, 3:49 pm Post #7 - June 5th, 2009, 3:49 pm
    JoelF wrote:I have to say this food looks a lot more interesting than what I found when I vacationed in Belize (from Belize City to San Ignacio to Cay Caulker, so it's not just an exception)

    I'm curious, did you try any Garifuna places when you were in Belize?

    Here's a scan (sorry for the poor quality; I made a mistake with the scanner settings) of Garifuna Flava's menu in case anyone wants a look. A new menu is reportedly in the works but this temporary version is what we ordered from a week ago.

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    Also listed are breads (home made bread, hot journey cake, home made bun), desserts (cassava cake, sweet potato pond, pound cake with caramel, coconut tarts) and drinks (smoothies, Caribbean sodas etc).
  • Post #8 - June 5th, 2009, 6:52 pm
    Post #8 - June 5th, 2009, 6:52 pm Post #8 - June 5th, 2009, 6:52 pm
    No, I didn't see anything labeled Garifuna.
    Note that (a) most of our time was spent in the relatively small towns of San Ignacio and Cay Caulker -- you get what's there. Also, we had two young children, who while not the fussiest in the world, were hoping at *some* point to have had noodles with butter and parmesan (never did).
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #9 - June 12th, 2009, 3:36 pm
    Post #9 - June 12th, 2009, 3:36 pm Post #9 - June 12th, 2009, 3:36 pm
    Habibi wrote:What a find! I'm actually often in that neighborhood. Can't wait to try it out.


    I'm nowhere near this neighborhood but I'm already planning a trip anyway! :lol: What 'hood is that anyway, still Englewood?
    Goodness, that all looks so tasty. This will make a welcome addition to my list...I plan on eating at at least one restaurant representative of each country on earth without leaving Chicago.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love

    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach

    I write fiction. You can find me—and some stories—on Facebook, Twitter and my website.
  • Post #10 - June 12th, 2009, 4:42 pm
    Post #10 - June 12th, 2009, 4:42 pm Post #10 - June 12th, 2009, 4:42 pm
    Pie Lady wrote:I'm nowhere near this neighborhood but I'm already planning a trip anyway! :lol: What 'hood is that anyway, still Englewood?
    Goodness, that all looks so tasty. This will make a welcome addition to my list...I plan on eating at at least one restaurant representative of each country on earth without leaving Chicago.

    It's called Chicago Lawn. The western boundary of Englewood is Ashland; West Englewood ends at Western. You can get Belizean food without the bother of visiting the South Side (e.g., Tickie's in Rogers Park) but I think Garifuna Flava is worth the trip.
  • Post #11 - June 27th, 2009, 6:40 pm
    Post #11 - June 27th, 2009, 6:40 pm Post #11 - June 27th, 2009, 6:40 pm
    I had a chance to try more dishes at Garifuna Flava. It's an interesting menu with choices even the most unadventurous eater should enjoy (fried chicken wings, potato salad, sautéed shrimp) to more advanced offerings (feet and tails from pigs and cows). Most dishes are rather mildly spiced but that onion and habanero relish really packs a punch and bottles of Marie Sharp's are always available.

    The jumbo tamal holds an entire seasoned chicken leg (with bone) in nice moist masa. I'd happily order this again but I think ducunu and panades are the stars of the appetizers.

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    We sampled two soups, cow foot and conch. It's not mentioned on the menu but small portions are available ($5, I believe, and they're not all that small). Both are quite similar, very homemade and full of vegetables. The cow foot in particular had a silky-rich broth—all that collagen helps. I liked the chewy, gelatinous hunks o' hoof a lot more than I expected.

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    Again they were out of Matilda Foot, which I want to order if only for the name, so we went with darasa and stewed pig tails. Darasa is grated and steamed green plantains, similar to hudut but with a firmer texture. A most excellent starch but the portion borders on overwhelming. The tails—nice little porky nubbins—are cooked in a mild tomato sauce.

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    We ordered some jerk chicken (a new menu addition) and a beef patty, their nods to Jamaica. Neither was particularly memorable. Why go to a Garifuna restaurant for Jamaican food?

    This visit I got to try some baked goods. Journey cakes seem like a cross between hard dough bread and biscuits. At $0.50 each they're well worth ordering if you have excess sauce to sop up.

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    Sweet potato pond is a dense, moist cake flavored with ginger and coconut. I enjoyed this dessert but thought a little went a long way.

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    Coconut tarts are another sweet that should appeal to ginger lovers. A very nice dessert and a good deal at 3 for $2.

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    Garifuna restaurants are exceedingly rare in the US. Chicago is fortunate to have such a good one. Hopefully the city will support them as they enter their second year.

    Garifuna Flava
    2516-18 W 63rd St
    Chicago
    773-776-7440
    Sun & Tue-Thu 11am-8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2am
  • Post #12 - June 28th, 2009, 4:12 pm
    Post #12 - June 28th, 2009, 4:12 pm Post #12 - June 28th, 2009, 4:12 pm
    Long-time lurker, first-time poster. Thanks for posting on Garifuna Flava; I'm glad to see Belize getting some LTH love.

    FWIW, my job takes me across Belize on a regular basis, and one reason much of what shows up on the Garifuna Flava menu wasn't found in Cayo/San Ignacio (the west) /the Cayes (northeast coast) is that the majority of Garifuna in Belize live south of Belize City, esp. in Dangriga and Punta Gorda. Dishes in the north are more Spanish and Yucatan-influenced, including relleno, chirmole, and escabeche. "Stew chicken" is ubiquitous across the country along with rice-and-beans (and may be the chicken dish on the menu, above.) Garnachas are also widely available.

    So we're fortunate to have a couple of restaurants (see also Tickie's near the Howard stop) in Chicago to represent some of the ethnic and culinary diversity of Belize.
  • Post #13 - May 14th, 2011, 4:56 pm
    Post #13 - May 14th, 2011, 4:56 pm Post #13 - May 14th, 2011, 4:56 pm
    Bump to an old thread after a great dinner there last night, over which we chatted with friends about our Belizean honeymoon of several months ago. I'm not surprised JoelF didn't run into any Garifuna since the culture is primarily one of southern Belize, centered on Dangriga and the fishing village of Hopkins, where we stayed - a place where even the teenagers smile and wave at you as you ride by on borrowed bikes on the sandy roads. We did taste some great hudut during our stay in Hopkins, and were mentioning that to our friends last night as the waiter walked by and said "Hopkins, you've been to Hopkins?" Turns out his family is originally from there. I'd add that for such a small population, Belize is a surprising crossroads of cultures and languages. We'd expected this former English colony to be English-speaking, and it was, thoroughly. But that's despite the fact that most people have a different first language - Garifuna, Belizean creole (based largely on English, but with it's own grammar and unique words), several Maya dialects, Spanish. Only a few spoke English as their first language.

    At Garifuna Flava, we tried both the Hudut Baruru with Falumou, steamed kingfish in sharp-tongued cocoanut milk, and the Hudut Baruru with Tikini (more of a beef roux if I understood). We too avoided dipping with the fufu and simply spooned up mashed plantain to soak the soup. One of our friends is from Costa Rica, though I've never heard it come out in his accent till last night, when a sense of fellowship encouraged him to talk about eating "PLANT'n" where I say planTAIN.

    Others ordered a fried fish in tomato sauce (probably the Red Snapper Dinner from the now somewhat outdated menu) and a nicely done jerk catfish (a non-Belizean concession to the wider Caribbean tastes of their patrons.) The plant'n chips were very thinly sliced with a soft taste.

    The waiter told us GF will be on the Food Network next week, (or maybe just that the Food Network will be taping next week for airing who knows when ...) We have no cable, so we're not the best source about tv shows - I noticed a FN logo painted on the wall with a phrase something like "Guy ate here", so I thought maybe that was the show, while the woman I shared my honeymoon with (my lovely wife) thought the title had the word "dives" in it.

    But don't wait till you see them on tv ... just get there and try it. Very nice.
  • Post #14 - May 25th, 2011, 9:12 pm
    Post #14 - May 25th, 2011, 9:12 pm Post #14 - May 25th, 2011, 9:12 pm
    ryanwc wrote:Bump to an old thread after a great dinner there last night, over which we chatted with friends about our Belizean honeymoon of several months ago. I'm not surprised JoelF didn't run into any Garifuna since the culture is primarily one of southern Belize, centered on Dangriga and the fishing village of Hopkins, where we stayed - a place where even the teenagers smile and wave at you as you ride by on borrowed bikes on the sandy roads. We did taste some great hudut during our stay in Hopkins, and were mentioning that to our friends last night as the waiter walked by and said "Hopkins, you've been to Hopkins?" Turns out his family is originally from there. I'd add that for such a small population, Belize is a surprising crossroads of cultures and languages. We'd expected this former English colony to be English-speaking, and it was, thoroughly. But that's despite the fact that most people have a different first language - Garifuna, Belizean creole (based largely on English, but with it's own grammar and unique words), several Maya dialects, Spanish. Only a few spoke English as their first language.

    At Garifuna Flava, we tried both the Hudut Baruru with Falumou, steamed kingfish in sharp-tongued cocoanut milk, and the Hudut Baruru with Tikini (more of a beef roux if I understood). We too avoided dipping with the fufu and simply spooned up mashed plantain to soak the soup. One of our friends is from Costa Rica, though I've never heard it come out in his accent till last night, when a sense of fellowship encouraged him to talk about eating "PLANT'n" where I say planTAIN.

    Others ordered a fried fish in tomato sauce (probably the Red Snapper Dinner from the now somewhat outdated menu) and a nicely done jerk catfish (a non-Belizean concession to the wider Caribbean tastes of their patrons.) The plant'n chips were very thinly sliced with a soft taste.

    The waiter told us GF will be on the Food Network next week, (or maybe just that the Food Network will be taping next week for airing who knows when ...) We have no cable, so we're not the best source about tv shows - I noticed a FN logo painted on the wall with a phrase something like "Guy ate here", so I thought maybe that was the show, while the woman I shared my honeymoon with (my lovely wife) thought the title had the word "dives" in it.

    But don't wait till you see them on tv ... just get there and try it. Very nice.


    They were on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives this past Monday. http://www.foodnetwork.com/diners-drive ... index.html
  • Post #15 - May 26th, 2011, 8:21 am
    Post #15 - May 26th, 2011, 8:21 am Post #15 - May 26th, 2011, 8:21 am
    The episode was amazing, I hope Food Network and the production company work out their problems and keep DDD going.
  • Post #16 - February 25th, 2014, 12:00 am
    Post #16 - February 25th, 2014, 12:00 am Post #16 - February 25th, 2014, 12:00 am
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    I really, really enjoyed a lunch in good company last week at Garifuna. The hosts were warm and engaging, the hashed-fish golden-masa panades were perfectly cooked, and the ketchup was ketchup. Belize-sourced conch was very much detectable in the fritters (ground, but briny and pleasantly chewy) and the (undepicted) soup, full of herbs and sweet spices. I indulged in some Belizean spirits which were beautifully balanced as well.

    The attention to cabbage as a condiment and a side was enjoyable - three different preps (mild and spicy microslaw, and then hot stewed) on our table, and there was a different sauce and broth for everything. I demolished the beans and rice. Jerk chicken seemed to be a different batch between the wings on the appetizer platter (mild and not smoky) and the lunch special (much smokier and with more of a kick, served with a great pepper sauce). Get here!
  • Post #17 - May 30th, 2019, 1:54 pm
    Post #17 - May 30th, 2019, 1:54 pm Post #17 - May 30th, 2019, 1:54 pm
    Based on a post by the restaurant, to their own Facebook page yesterday, they will be opening (presumably) a stall at the French Market downtown this summer. If they're able to maintain quality control on par with the restaurant, seems like the perfect situation of a restaurant expanding it's footprint with customers unaware of, or insufficiently motivated to travel to, the original brick and mortar location. Certainly pulling for them. The news has me wanting to hit up 63rd St.
    http://www.facebook.com/GarifunaFlava1/
  • Post #18 - May 31st, 2019, 4:16 pm
    Post #18 - May 31st, 2019, 4:16 pm Post #18 - May 31st, 2019, 4:16 pm
    In speaking with a Native Belizian today- I was informed of a Hyde Park-
    Belizian Carnival this summer-
    featuring his Sister Karla's (of Karla's Kitchen) Meat Pies and other Belizian treats.

    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bantu-fest ... 0062461169
  • Post #19 - June 1st, 2019, 2:19 pm
    Post #19 - June 1st, 2019, 2:19 pm Post #19 - June 1st, 2019, 2:19 pm
    If they're able to maintain quality control on par with the restaurant, seems like the perfect situation
    Garifuna Flava has been doing offsite food service in downtown office lobbies for years now through entities like Fooda. They keep the quality high with a limited menu (jerk chicken, stew chicken, and a few sides) and are pretty well known at this point by the Loop Office Drones. I hope they knock this out of the park.
  • Post #20 - June 1st, 2019, 2:52 pm
    Post #20 - June 1st, 2019, 2:52 pm Post #20 - June 1st, 2019, 2:52 pm
    admich wrote:
    If they're able to maintain quality control on par with the restaurant, seems like the perfect situation
    Garifuna Flava has been doing offsite food service in downtown office lobbies for years now through entities like Fooda. They keep the quality high with a limited menu (jerk chicken, stew chicken, and a few sides) and are pretty well known at this point by the Loop Office Drones. I hope they knock this out of the park.


    Yeah they do a pop-up in my apartment building about once a month. The dinner of jerked chicken + peas & rice + cabbage + plaintains is very tasty and a great value (one dinner easily feeds my wife and I and then some). Very nice people as well.
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #21 - July 29th, 2019, 7:13 am
    Post #21 - July 29th, 2019, 7:13 am Post #21 - July 29th, 2019, 7:13 am
    Caribbean and Central American spot Garifuna Flava is now open inside the Chicago’s French Market

    https://chicago.eater.com/2019/6/21/187 ... ummer-2019
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny

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