Stay ConnectedFacebookTwitter

Subscribe to our eNewsletter

The Coast News

Explore the flavors of Jamaica at Jamroc

David Boylan

Jamroc Chef Tony and his sous chef Ryan RamirezJamroc Chef Tony and his sous chef Ryan Ramirez
Jamroc Chef Tony and his sous chef Ryan Ramirez

When I think of Jamaica, the first things that come to mind are reggae, tropical lushness, Usain Bolt, and Red Stripe beer. The cuisine was not even on my radar until I lived in Chicago a few years back and had to walk through a neighborhood in East Rogers Park that had several Jamaican restaurants. I’d stop on occasion and became a fan of the melting pot of ingredients are used to create that distinct Jamaican style. I was stoked when David and Tina DaCosta opened Jamroc 9 years ago, bringing authentic Jamaican food to coastal Encinitas. David was born and raised in Jamaica and a great resource for the islands culinary history. Below are some highlights from a recent conversation.

LTP
You grew up in Jamaica, what is your background and how did your family end up there?

DaCosta
My ancestry is Portuguese Jewish and Jamaican for 300 years plus. My family fled Portugal after the Spanish Inquisition and arrived in Jamaica under British rule and has been there ever since. I left 40 years ago to go to school in Canada after which I arrived to my new home and life in San Diego.

LTP
Growing up in Jamaica, what were your earliest memories of the food and were there any dishes that really stood out?

DaCosta
Jamaicans like to have a good time and are very well equipped with their warm and friendly personalities. I remember a lot of parties and many large family gatherings with dancing and of course food. Curried Goat would be my favorite and my wife has proudly duplicated my uncle’s recipe from home.

LTP
What brought you to Encinitas and what was the inspiration behind Jamroc?

DaCosta
My San Diegan wife, Tina and I settled in Encinitas 15 years ago after 10 years in La Costa. Tina raised two beautiful daughters and Jamroc was our plan B when the girls left home. We wanted to bring the Jamaican cuisine and culture to North County, as even though Bob Marley made reggae famous worldwide the food was left up to “Mom and Pop” entrepreneurs. Tina had always liked cooking and would bring recipes home when we visited. I enjoyed putting the concept together but Tina and the kitchen is the heart of Jamroc.

LTP
You have been in business for nine years, since before Encinitas became somewhat of a foodie destination, what do you attribute your longevity too? DaCosta
We work hard at our mission statement which is to be the best offering for an authentic Jamaica restaurant

serving the culture, food and drink in a comfortable atmosphere at economical prices.

LTP
Tell me a bit about the foundation of Jamaican food, it’s somewhat of a melting pot of cuisines correct?

DaCosta
Absolutely! The food mimics the history and peoples of Jamaica. First there was the Spaniards then the British in the 1650’s, then the slave trade with African food staples. After slavery was abolished immigrant labor came from China then India. As a result we have a melting pot of races and food proving the motto of Jamaica … “out of many one people”. Please don’t forget that Jamaicans like to drink… from the local Red Stripe beer to all concoctions of rum. We offer a large selection of fun tropical drinks.

LTP
What dishes would you suggest to a newbie to Jamaican food?

DaCosta
Well, seventy five percent of the menu is authentic. You would have to try a Jamaican beef patty which is like an empanada. Then the most common dishes are Jerk Pork and Jerk Chicken with rice and beans.

LTP
What are your most popular dishes?

DaCosta
Jerk Pork and Jerk Chicken with rice and beans. Jerk is the process of spicing and grilling meats, poultry, and even vegetables. The resulting food yields a spicy-sweet flavor and a tender texture. Coco bread is a true favorite, which is baked fresh every morning from scratch (trade secret). Our sea food jambalaya is to die for. Yea Mon!

LTP
You also have ribs on your menu, what is your smoking technique?

DaCosta
We use an electronic smoker oven with wood chips mixed with cinnamon sticks and pimento seeds. This is a slow cooked process which makes it taste so delicious.

Jamroc is located at 101 N. Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas. Check out their full menu at www.jamroc101.com

<< Back