No, you haven't stumbled onto the latest Arkansas Blog post about Mark Pryor vs. Tom Cotton — that's not the kind of jerk we're talking about. This jerk is an allspice and Scotch bonnet pepper mix from Jamaica that can do some pretty magical things when applied to chicken. I first tried jerk chicken years ago when a lady I worked with would bring some back from a Caribbean eatery in Chicago every time she'd visit, and her once or twice a year pilgrimages became something of a legend. At that time, there wasn't anybody doing jerk chicken in Arkansas, and so a brief taste of that sweet, spicy, savory mix was something that a person either had to do themselves or just taste from time to time. With Montego Cafe on Main Street in the mix now, however, good jerk chicken is as close as downtown.
Now Montego will add some jerk spice to just about anything on their menu — you just have to tell them to "make it Rasta," but the pinnacle of deliciousness comes with the wings. Smoky grilled chicken is coated in a thick layer of sauce that makes me never want to taste any other kind of wings again. A nod to a different wing tradition — the Buffalo wing — is also provided with Montego's plate: a cup of blue cheese or Ranch dressing. I was a bit skeptical of dipping my wings into dressing the first time I tried them, but the cool, creamy flavor of the blue cheese cut through and accentuated the spice of the jerk seasoning nicely. I could eat an embarrassing amount of these wings.
If wings aren't your thing, first what's wrong with you, and second you can get boneless jerk chicken on a salad, or go for the jerk shrimp. And while there are plenty of other things on the Montego menu worth sampling (including some deceptive and delicious rum drinks), that jerk chicken is where it's at, not only as one of the best dishes coming out of the Main Street restaurant, but as one of the best dishes in Little Rock.
Montego Cafe is located at 315 Main Street in Little Rock, and is becoming one of the revitalized downtown area's tastiest and nicest spots for drinks, music, and great food — so much so that we can even forgive them for having something called "The Bob Marley Burger."