Island Friday’s – Cincinnati, OH

Restaurant Name: Island Friday’s
Address: 2826 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45219

Jerk Chicken Dinner – March 8, 2018

Today and really this whole week I’ve been traveling for work and by traveling I literally mean I’ve been driving all over much more than usual. This past Tuesday I had a pre-construction meeting at a project in Lafayette which isn’t really too bad because it’s near my alma mater of Purdue. Wednesday I ventured up to St. John, IN for a pre-bid meeting and then hurried back for Wednesday Night Youth Service at Club 365. Today I woke up early and hit the road at 7:00 AM to go to a northern suburb of Cincinnati, OH known as Mason for a full day of meeting with subcontractors and suppliers. 

With my evening plans freeing up, it opened up the opportunity to return to my absolute favorite place to get 100% legit and authentic Jamaican food at Island Friday’s. You may have heard about this place near the University of Cincinnati as it was featured on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-in’s, & Dive’s”. When you think about Jamaican food you may jump right to the exotic of curry goat or a fish dish, but for me I think of Jerk Chicken.


Jerk Chicken Dinner with red beans & rice, Jamaican greens, and fried plantains

Let me begin this review with the “appearance” review. Obviously, you can’t score really high when your meal is served in a styrofoam container. I’m not hating on places that do, but when it comes to appearance of the dish to me a styrofoam container doesn’t look appealing. When you open the container though the Jamaican greens jump out and the shine of the jerk sauce on the chicken. Not even taking into account the flavor of the steam that hits your nostrils is amazing!

Taste…where to begin when it comes to the taste of this dinner. The jerk seasoning/marinate is AWESOME! So awesome I bought two jars of it as I was leaving. I like to consider myself as a person who likes hot and spicy foods, but I don’t like hot just because I can and burn your face off hot. I prefer hot but robust and flavorful hot and the jerk seasoning and sauce here bring it 100%. I do love the choice to use bone-in chicken thighs as thighs are meatier and typically easier to keep moist. The chicken wasn’t dry except for maybe in a few spots where the skin may had been peeled back, but overall the meat itself was moist. But obviously the jerk seasoning and the sauce is what makes this dish come alive. It is so full of flavors your tastebuds will be getting stamps all over its passport in each bite. 

The jerk seasoning sauce (also known as “Island Magic”) has ingredients like habaneros, onions, scallions, garlic, thyme, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, pimento, seasoning salt, soya sauce, & vinegar as it’s primary ingredients. Seeing this list it speaks ROBUST FLAVORS all the way. Hints of sweet, savory, salt, bitter, and then a nice little jab of heat in every single bite. If you’re looking for melt your face off hot, this sauce isn’t it, but if you’re looking for a tastebud adventure it’s a must try flavor profile.

The sides were all really good too. The Jamaican greens were tasty…didn’t need any hot sauce as I typically do with most greens but they were a good accent to the dish. The red beans and rice were awesome especially the portions that got some of the jerk seasoning sauce on it! Mighty tasty bites there. Fried plantains are unique. They don’t have a distinct flavor that blows my mind, but they do provide a nice subtle sweetness to the dish. 

Negatives of this dish…really just come in the presentation. I think most of their customers get their food to go, but it’d be nice if for people dining in to get their food a plate of some sort vs. a styrofoam container. The food itself I wouldn’t change a thing!


Overall, jerk chicken is one of my favorite flavor profiles. It’s a whirlwind of flavors in every bite that really is good on anything…just so happens to be commonly on chicken. Great choice to use chicken thighs and perfectly cooked side dishes were complimentary flavors to the focal flavor of the jerk chicken.

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