Whole red snapper, served escoveitched. (Photo by Kathy Tran)

Whole red snapper, served escoveitched. (Photo by Kathy Tran)

The Island Spot is a lesson in Jamaican culture and food

Richard Thomas wants to share his culture with Oak Cliff.

The Island Spot’s owner takes every opportunity he can to share Jamaica with the world at large.

Thomas gained a cult following with his restaurant in Carrollton, which debuted in 2011 before he opened a second location at Jefferson Tower last year.

It’s a bright corner space with rum-bottle lamps, two patios and live reggae music on the weekends.

The menus explain Caribbean cooking methods, spices and foods as well as Jamaican patois and traditions.

Oxtails braised for two days and simmered in gravy is among the dishes Thomas uses to express the flavorful culture. Oxtails were once castoff cuts of beef that African slaves figured out how to make delicious. There’s also ackee and salt fish, the national dish of Jamaica. Ackee is a dense fruit brought to the island from West Africa. Whole red snapper can be ordered in brown stew, steamed or escoveitched, in which the fish is marinated in vinegar, onions, carrots and scotch-bonnet peppers.

The Island Spot also offers curries, fried chicken and meat pies, as well as jerk everything — chicken, pork, ribs, a jerk burger and more.

Rich food, reggae and rum are the “three R’s” of Jamaican culture, Thomas says. And the bar is stocked with more than 30 rum labels from 15 islands and Brazil. There are sipping rums, some aged 21 years, that can be ordered in tasting flights.

Besides running two restaurants (with his mother and other family members), Thomas is the vice president of supply chain for Borden Dairy, overseeing $1 billion in milk purchases every year.

“This is my passion,” Thomas says. “I want to share who I am and who we are as a culture.”

The Island Spot

Ambiance: Jamaican vacation
Price range: $12-$28
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday,
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday,
11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
309 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Did you know: The Island Spot bottles its jerk sauce and sells it for $6.99.

An appetizer of jerk chicken wings and fried plantains. (Photo by Kathy Tran)

An appetizer of jerk chicken wings and fried plantains. (Photo by Kathy Tran)