- 1070 N. Swan Road, Tucson, AZ, 85711
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
- Tue.-Sun. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Mon. closed
- Official Web Site:
What we ordered: One regular-sized jerk chicken plate ($8.50), one regular-sized curry chicken plate ($8.50) and one sorrel juice ($3) for a total of $20, just reaching our Cheap Eats goal of $20 for two people.
Comments: You have to know a restaurant is great when the owner insists on showing you his oxtail before you even sit down. Deon Harrison at CeeDee Jamaican Kitchen is particularly enthusiastic about the menu, trotting out selections of curried goat, plantains and the entire unmolested bodies of unlucky tilapia.
The menu at this hole-in-the-wall Jamaican eatery may be small in size, but it doesn’t feel limiting. Though the owners prepare only a few selections each night, you can taste the attention in each one. When we came in, Harrison insisted we look at the buffet troughs filled with several dark curries and stews speckled with marrow bones of various animals.
Food: Each entrée comes in a regular and a large size, but there’s no need to order up—the regular had more than enough to satisfy. In addition to the meat, each came with a scoop of rice as well as a couple fried plantains and a dense, fried doughnut cake called festival. The plantains were some of the best I’ve had: They were deep and sugary and browned just right. The hearty rice was very flavorful too, perfectly seasoned with little beans giving it some texture.
We wanted to branch out and try some of the curried goat ($12.50), but we went with chicken in order to stay under our $20 max. Both selections—the jerk and the yellow curry chicken—were extremely tender but almost hard to eat because they were so boney. (Cooking meat on the bone can often make it softer.) These dishes demand to be eaten with your hands.
The jerk chicken was drier than I expected and tasted almost like tandoori chicken or Southern barbecue food. I didn’t taste much of that tangy jerk flavor I was used to, but I liked it better that way. The curry chicken had a great flavor as well, but it was a little fattier than the other dish.
Service: The service is particularly intimate; on our visit, we were the only people in the little cafe, aside from the two owners. CeeDee runs a cheap lunch special that may attract a few more people ($5 for beef and chicken entrees), but the dinner service had me worried about their longevity.
Bar: CeeDee doesn’t serve alcohol, but they do have a variety of Jamaican drinks such as D&G, Irish moss and peanut punch. On our visit, the owner insisted we try the homemade sorrel juice, squeezed from a flower similar to hibiscus. The deep-red drink was insanely sweet and had this exotic ginger flavor that was hard to get into, but I was glad I tried.
Bottom line: CeeDee is the real deal, and I hope it stays around for a long time. It may not have many bells and whistles, but if you’re into no-nonsense, “no problem, mon!” food, this is the place to go.