Ate it for $8: The Island Spot in Carrollton

Kristy Alpert’s latest report on where you can find great food for less than eight dollars.

Trying desperately to satiate the serious travel bug I’ve come down with lately, and gearing up for some reggae tunes from a local-Texas-boy at the Cas Haley concert later that night, I grabbed my beach-bumming friend and headed out to The Island Spot in Carrollton. I figured if I couldn’t be on a beach in the Caribbean, at least I could eat some Caribbean fare. Lucky for us, The Island Spot is authentically Caribbean, down to the chill attitudes and friendly smiles.

As soon as I got out of my car, I could see through the window and watched a waiter rush from the back of the restaurant to open the door and greet us with an overly excited, “Welcome to The Island Spot. So glad you’re here mon!”

Jump for jerk

We ordered our food and sat back to enjoy the laid back atmosphere and smooth reggae beats coming from a flat screen on the back wall. This place was opened last year by Jamaican-born Charis Clemetson and several Caribbean partners. Their passion to create an Island authentic experience is evident: a steel drum band plays every Friday night. Dancing is optional but inevitable.

The food came out on two large platters. My lunchmate went with the jerk chicken lunch special ($5.99) with homemade jerk BBQ sauce (sweet with a hint of spice), red beans and rice, and sautéed veggies (a mix of shredded carrots, cabbage, and onions). I went with the jerk chicken entrée ($7.95) with their spicy, homemade Jerk sauce, rice and peas, and plantains. Somehow my rice and peas turned into red beans and rice from the time I ordered, but honestly, they looked so good I didn’t totally care.

Both entrees were bone-in chicken, marinated and smoked in a special The Island Spot’s blend of jerk seasoning, with sauce on the side. The chicken didn’t need any sauce at all and was so tender the meat fell off the bone at the touch of a fork. (I would bathe in the rub they put on that chicken.) Although the red beans and rice lacked flavor, my friend doused hers with BBQ jerk sauce. I hope they start selling their sauces, because both were outstanding. The BBQ was slightly sweet and perfectly spicy, and my straight-up spicy jerk sauce kept my nose running for hours after I’d left. The plantains were perfect. ‘Nuff said. Lightly crispy and warm from the pan on the outside and soft and subtly sweet inside.

Overall: Great way to get a taste of the Caribbean in Dallas. The lunch portion was large, and the full entrée was too much to eat in one setting. This is a great value and they have some great sides–coco bread, bammy, fritters, doppers—that I have yet to sample. They also have beef or chicken patties ($2.50) like the ones I ate on my honeymoon in Jamaica three years ago. The only thing missing from is a margarita machine (IJS), but Clemetson and her team are hoping to get approved for their license in July. They will begin offering a weekly Sunday brunch (buffet style), kicking off this Sunday, 6/19, for Father’s Day. Part of the beauty of The Island Spot is that it is still relatively undiscovered, so get there before everyone starts realizing how great this place is.

2661 Midway Rd., Ste 106, Carrollton 75006

Well Dishers? Where should I go next for my $8 lunch?

12 comments on “Ate it for $8: The Island Spot in Carrollton

  1. FYI, don’t expect to see white rice with green peas when you order “rice and peas.”

    Jamaicans call the red beans and rice in your picture, “rice and peas.”

  2. Thanks for the tip JG. The waiter mentioned they were out of peas so they used red beans instead, but I guess I’m lucky I got the more traditional dish anyhow!

  3. As a preface I work in Lewisville so I frequent these places with the exception of King’s Noddles in Richardson
    Al Markaz for their 3 Combo Lunch Special

    Any of the places in the food court in Super H Mart. I like the dumpling place , an offshoot of Chef Hsu on Harry Hines, and the all Korean place next to the Chinese place (not in the corner).

    Kings Noodles in Richardson for the Zha Jiang Mein and some cold cucumbers or boiled peanuts as a side

    Catrachos in Carrollton off Josey and 190 for a Homduran baleada, pastelitos or on of their plates.

    Inca’s Cafe in Carrollton off Josey and 190 for any of the Peruvian dishes, It might be over $8 but you might get a half portion of the ceviche.

    Papusas or Tacos at Michoacan in Carrollton at Josey and Frankford. They have a really good fried corn tamale if you want the State Fair experience without the crappy hot dog.

    Beltline and Josey is My Tho Vietnamese go there for Bun Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork Vermicelli Noodle Bowl)

    Panaderia Guatemalteca La Mejor for the Guatemalan style enchilada in Carrollton just off Beltline and Marsh. Some other dishes there too but I am cheap so I go for just one of these.

    International Bakery in Carrollton at Josey and 190 for a Cuban sandwich

    Tipicos on NW Hwy over in the Bachman area or on Belt Line in Carrollton for the 2 cheese enchiladas with rice and beans.
    Secret Recipe in Carrollton on Hebron for a Malaysian dish like Curry Laksa, Fried Tofu with Minced Pork, Stewed Vinegar Pork.

    Hong Kong Royal for a Chinese lunch special. I really like the Singapore Style Thin Rice Noodle or the Special Sauce with thin Rice Noodle, Pan Fried Rice Noodle with Beef (Dry). Also you will need to bring a friend because the dishes are family style and meant for two or a very large eater.

  4. Whoa! Thanks Shane. I’ve got my work cut out for me now! Thanks for the recommendations.

  5. I second Al Markaz off 190. Love the 3 Combo lunch special. Get the spicy goat curry!

  6. Shane, You just seriously messed things up by letting out some of our best secrets. Before your post, the inside the loop crowd assumed our little corner of the the ‘burbs was all about white bread, bologna and a Chili’s on every corner.

  7. @SAM
    I am trying to keep some of these hidden gems in business. I could care less of who eats there or if I have to wait in line. I fear the day that I have to eat nothing but chains. Yes most of the people think Carrollton and the northern suburbs ,for that matter, is a restaurant wasteland. Next up on the hotspot will be Denton, mark my words!

    I could go on and on about lunch and where I would like to eat but the list I posted is what I frequent and know.

  8. @Shane…I was trying to be funny, not really taking you to task! Sorry I came across the wrong way. My family also frequents the locally owned spots–and love that food from almost anywhere in the world is no more than 15 minutes from our front door. We haven’t made it to all of the places you mentioned yet, but we’re working on it.

    Latest one we tried was Lal Taliq (sp?)in the H-Mart plaza. It’s good stuff and they have a nice lunch special. We’ll definitely go back.

  9. I have had a few meals at (TIS)The Island Spot and my only dilemma is the wait. After working through your first meal at TIS, you come to expect good Jamaican authentic food on every visit. Waiting to be served with music in the background and the smell of the different flavors plus looking around at what other people have ordered you have to seriously remind yourself that this is not a pre-cooked out of the freezer fast-food type restaurant.
    I hate to wait but after your are done eating and all packed away in your to-go box, you have to say ‘it was worth the wait’. feget de napkin just lick-it. feget the people jus pick it up and suck it.

  10. I’ve been there!!! One of my all time favorites. And the owner is so sweet