MIAGuide

The Best Jerk Chicken In Miami

It’s spicy. It’s smoky. And it’s one of the best things you can eat in Miami.
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photo credit: Karli Evans

There are a lot of things you can do to chicken to make it taste good. But very few of those techniques produce a result as wonderful as jerk chicken—the classic Jamaican staple that involves vigorously rubbing a bird down with a small party of herbs, spices, and scotch bonnet peppers before grilling and smoking it. The result is a smoky, spicy, perfectly-charred symphony of tender meat that you can tear apart with your fingers. Thankfully, Miami is a city with a lot of outstanding Jamaican and Caribbean restaurants where jerk chicken is front and center on the menu.

THE SPOTS


Caribbean

Little River

$$$$Perfect For:LunchSerious Take-Out Operation

B&M Market makes some of the best West Indian food Miami has to offer. This place is on 79th Street and is part restaurant/part bodega. The standard jerk chicken here is awesome, but the real move is to order the jerk chicken roti. Do that and you’ll get chunks of B&M’s spicy jerk chicken wrapped inside an unbelievably good roti. The whole thing looks a little like a burrito and is quite simply one of the best things you can eat in Miami.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

Clive’s is one of the best Jamaican restaurants in the city. We hope you know this already, but if you don’t, then make plans to visit the Little Haiti restaurant very soon. And whether it’s your first or 50th visit to Clive’s, you can’t go wrong with the jerk chicken. They nail this dish, as they do with pretty much everything they make. The chicken is smoky and the charred jerk rub holds the perfect amount of spice from the scotch bonnet peppers. The best part, though, is that every single bite is about as juicy and tender as chicken can be.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

This North Miami Beach takeout operation makes an excellent jerk chicken—both a standard version as well as in sandwich form, and shredded in pasta. But their traditional jerk chicken is really good. It’s got a mild heat to it, tender meat that falls right off the bone, and a dark spice rub that goes heavy on the allspice. The sides—like rice and peas and plantains—are on point too. But do yourself a favor and look at the rest of Fatboy's online menu before you check out, because they have other great dishes too, like fried wings and fluffy conch fritters.


On a nice day, if you are even remotely in the mood for Caribbean food, go to Naomi’s. But even if you don’t have time to eat your food in the lovely little courtyard—where there’s a garden, a few roosters, and scattered furniture—this place is still worth the trip, especially if you’re looking for jerk chicken. Naomi’s version is very good, nicely charred, and quite juicy since they only use dark meat. It comes with two sides, and we usually go with a big pile of rice and beans and plantains.


This great little restaurant in North Miami is quite easy to spot thanks to an exterior that sports the unmistakable green and yellow of the Jamaican flag. And as you can probably guess, they do Jamaican food here, and that includes jerk chicken. It’s a really delicious version, served with a big pile of rice and beans and plantains. It's not as spicy as some of the ones on this guide, but Cliff’s should still be on your radar for jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish, oxtail, and more.


In a huge strip mall in northeast Kendall, you’ll find Jamaica Kitchen, a narrow and mostly to-go spot with a few outdoor tables. Jamaica Kitchen is a Chinese-Jamaican restaurant, a delicious and not uncommon pairing in Jamaica, but you’ll still find a classic jerk chicken here. Ours was a little light on spice, but still smoky and tender enough to rip apart with nothing more than our fingers. Grab a peanut punch on your way out and you’ve got yourself a fantastic lunch or dinner.


The majority of Banana Hut is taken up by a huge charcoal pit that runs the length of the small restaurant. And that charcoal pit certainly earns every inch of the real estate it takes up because it’s responsible for some really good jerk chicken. This one hits all the notes we’ve come to expect from a proper jerk: smoky, spicey, juicy—even the chunks of white meat that are tossed in there. Banana Hut is in South Miami, about a half-hour from Downtown, but it deserves to be on your radar whether you live nearby or just happen to be passing through, maybe on the way back from hanging out with flamingos at the nearby Zoo Miami.


King Jerk does not taste like the rest of the jerk chicken on this guide. The chicken coming from this Opa-locka food truck tastes more like Southern barbecue, very smoky and a little sweet. You can taste some whispers of jerk—maybe a little allspice, thyme, and garlic hanging out in the background—but don’t expect a big jerk punch like you might get with other versions. Yet, while we were considering whether or not to call this jerk chicken, we looked down at our plate and realized we ate the whole thing in like 47 seconds. Because whatever you want to call it or not call it, it’s incredibly juicy, flavorful, and just really, really good chicken.

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