2 Girls Who Travel recently visited Island Spice Bar & Grill, a cute Caribbean restaurant located in a strip center in Northwest Houston. And just as expected … it was a vibe.
Rather unassuming on the outside, upon entrance, it’s live! The walls are brightly colored in shades of orange and gold with streamers cascading from the ceilings. Reggae plays in the background.
There’s a small bar off to the left, a small counter which we assume is for take-out orders and numerous small tables for dining in.
The owner, affectionately know by staff and patrons as “Ms. Ellen,” greeted us and fixed us the restaurant’s specialty drink “Rum Punch.”
It’s not so much a secret recipe, rather Ms. Ellen’s special drink. She told us she’s perfected the recipe and formula.
The verdict is the Rum Punch is a must try at Island Spice. It’s on the sweeter side but packs a mean punch, so definitely one of those drinks that could sneak up on you!
Now for the food. We opted for the jerk chicken, rice and beans and plantains. If you’ve had rice and beans and plantains before, chances are they taste much like them. In short, it was no frills – just good.
Now on to the jerk chicken.
There’s an unwritten rule we’ve adopted – if your nose isn’t running, your jerk needs work! This passed the test. Nose was running and flavor was good. Would definitely order this again!
After our meal, 2 Girls Who Travel sat down for a chat with Ms. Ellen. She dished on her origins, the cuisine and why Island Spice is more than just a restaurant.
Conversations with Ms. Ellen ~
She’s originally from Guyana, a country in South America. “When people hear an accent, they automatically think you’re from Jamaica,” she says. “There’s a lot of Caribbean countries. Ours is unique in that some of our menu items are Asian dishes.”
She came to Houston nine years ago with her dream of always wanting her own business. “I opened a grocery store and saw there was a need for Caribbean groceries. My husband loves to cook and entertain so he said it would be great if we could add a kitchen as well.”
The couple began offering takeout and began to meet the Caribbean community of Houston. “They said, ‘why don’t you open a dining area?'”
After adding a DJ on certain nights, Island Spice Bar & Grill was officially a “thing.” They are open late – until 2am – on Fridays and Saturdays. It transforms to a night spot with a live DJ and colorful lights. Guests can order from the full menu up to 11pm on those nights and order smaller bites after.
It’s a family affair. Not only do Ms. Ellen and her husband cook, her sister has joined the team in the kitchen as well. “My sister taught me a lot of things [about cooking] when we were younger and now I just put my own spin on things.”
So what to order? Ms. Ellen said Island Spice’s most popular dish is the oxtails. And we’re gonna say go ahead and add a Rum Punch to that. You’re welcome!
Island Spice Bar & Grill is located at 17802 West Little York Rd., Houston, TX 77084.