The rich ethnic flavor of Michigan City, Indiana continues to grow with the newest addition to the community. This ethnic explosion, just might be the thing that sets us apart from some of our surrounding areas. The heart of the community is becoming quite International. Please read on...
It all began when a sweet voice with a heavy Jamaican accent said, "Ms. LaLuna, my family is opening a restaurant Saturday, and I work there." With a cute shyness she handed me the brochure from the restaurant with as much care as a someone would pass a baby. I asked her more about it and she was beaming with pride over her family's accomplishment. I promised her that I would visit the restaurant on the "birth" of this new endeavor.
As promised, I arrived about 12:30 and walked in to find 2 smiling faces welcoming me into the restaurant. The lovely lady at the counter said, "you are Kayla's teacher? She said to expect you." Never before have I been so happy to have fulfilled what I said I would do. We began conversing about Jamaican cuisine as I have never really indulged in it before. Immediately she shares with the chef, a man filled with pride over his fair and ability to deliver top-notch cuisine that I am Kayla's teacher and that I need to sample "jerk chicken." Together they scrambled to get me a tasty portion of a wing. Immediately as the meat touched my palette the herbs and spices took me to a whole new place. I was no longer in a quaint little shop on 11th and Franklin, but, rather I taken to balmy breezes, rich accents, beautiful color and alive with a feeling that I had become a part of their world. To my joy and satisfaction another patron walked in and shared that he had never delighted in Jamaican food before and said, "I want to eat, but, do not know what to order." Again the dance began with the owners reaching deep into their Jamaican hospitality to educate him as well as to the flavor of "Jamaica Man!"
I settled on a quarter chicken all white meat with red beans and rice, smothered with gravy and steamed cabbage. Along with the meal came a plantain slice and a little extra jerk sauce. The reviews from Steven were, "this cabbage is spectacular!" "OMG, another favorite!" "another reason to say, Michigan City has the best food!" As for me, the delightful herbs and spices danced on my tongue and sent me into a succession of "mmmm!', "Ohhh, yeah!" "this is exceptional!"
I could see the care taken to chop up vegetables, and fresh herbs and spices. I tasted the careful melding of those ingredients with main ingredients so that it was a flavorful explosion. The care, quality, price and quantity of food is nothing short of Exceptional! We will be traveling to Jamaica by way of a culinary vehicle many times this summer and beyond.
Cool Runnings Jamaican Restaurant is tucked in a small strip-like mall right next to the South Shore train line, 11th St. Stop. Parking is available on the street and in a parking lot on the corner of 11th and Franklin. There is some room for dining in. Just imagine sitting in the window eating jerk chicken and plantains as the South Shore train pulls up in front of you. Rarely will you ever find a location anywhere else in the heartland of America that has window seating, quality ethnic food and a train going down the middle of the street.
Cool Runnings Jamaican Restaurant, 112 11th St. Michigan City, IN 46360 Telephone 219-210-3885. Offerings include, chicken, ox-tail, curried goat, fish, along with traditional sides: red beans and rice, macaroni and cheese, steamed cabbage, plantains, festivals, candy yams, sweet corn.
Some of our other favorites located in the heart of "City" include:
- The Pearl Chinese Restaurant
- Pickle and Turnip, Mediterranean, formerly Sahara's
- El Bracero, Mexican
- William B's Steakhouse
- It's Vegas Baby, Viva Italia (Thursday nights only)