Mad Girl Eats Reggae Shack Café in Gainesville


Reggae Shack Cafe, 619 W. University Ave, Gainesville, FL  32601.

Planning my trip to Gainesville to attend Graduation, I did my homework on where to eat lunch. Perusing through the “Best Of” lists, Reggae Shack Cafe` piqued my interest, their menu intrigued me. Ok, done. Let’s get some Jamaican food, Mon!

A restaurant with the word ‘Shack’ in it, along with being near the University… I didn’t hope for much, ambience wise. Don’t judge a book by it’s name… bad! The interior had a cool chic relaxed vibe, with full table service. Every staff person I encountered was welcoming, friendly, knowledgable and helpful. Shout out to Kalvin, my Server. He went above and beyond and was a genuine delight. Good people.

Undecided by what to order and a bit overwhelmed by the amazing menu, Kalvin was kind enough to ask the kitchen for a taste of their different meats. I tasted Curry Goat, Oxtail, Brown Stew Chicken, Jerk Chicken, Curry Chicken. Each one, mad good! All entrees come with a side of rice and peas (red kidney beans), steamed cabbage, and plantains (a fave). The curry was delicious, not your average yellow store-bought spice. This was greenish and had a level of authenticity you have to taste to believe. True Caribbean flavor. Kalvin said the jerk spice was very spicy, it was indeed, but authentic and delish. The Brown Stew Chicken and the Oxtail with the brown sauce were what I was feeling. A sweet hint in the rich brown sauce was my ticket to Jamaican paradise. Bring on the Oxtail! You can’t leave without having Jerk Chicken, so bring that too!

Oh me oh my. The oxtail was tender, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth extraordinary. I mixed my rice and peas in with the brown sauce and I couldn’t put my fork down! It was on! Everything on my plate kept me wanting more. The Jerk Chicken was very hot and spicy, but the heat of the spice didn’t overpower the flavor. Sometimes the heat is all you get from a dish that spicy, but you get to enjoy it all with this plate. Their slogan is “Culture so rich you can taste it”, no truer words spoken.

I had to run or be late getting to the ceremony. I definitely will return and devour more of this menu. Next visit, the “Dutty” fries, Curry Palm Hearts, and dessert first. 😉

If you’re traveling on I-75 passing thru Gainesville, hop off at the Archer Rd exit and make your way 5 miles east, to Reggae Shake Cafe. You won’t be sorry, only addicted.

Tips:  Eat in or take out available.  Many fab vegan and vegetarian dishes offered. Inexpensive meter parking on the street, bring 2 quarters for an hour. Dimes and nickels accepted too. Open 11am – 10pm everyday. Bam!

5 out of 5 Don’t worry be extremely happy points.  🙂

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