Brandon George took a former Starbucks location, next to Providence Hospital, and turned it into something special. He and his brother, Blake, opened Montego’s Caribbean Café in midsummer. Brandon built most of Montego’s new interior himself from scratch. He crafted the tables, frames for the art, and the bamboo bar, complete with a tiki-style thatched roof. Then he moved on to the menu. “I spent many weekends cooking and throwing out food until we got it just the way we wanted it, ” he says.
He admits, however, that calling Montego’s a Caribbean café is a bit of a misnomer. “The best way to describe our cuisine would be Caribbean-inspired, not Caribbean-authentic, ” Brandon says. “I guess you would call it ‘Jamerican, ’ a mixture of Jamaican and American.” The menu is a pleasing mix of South Alabama favorites, often with a tropical twist. The portions are plentiful, with items including gargantuan nachos, giant burgers and some of the largest stuffed spuds you’ll find anywhere. (The house specialty, a huge burger dubbed “The Full Monte, ” features a pound and a half of Angus beef, crowned with a host of toppings, including a slice of grilled, marinated pineapple. Those that manage to polish one off get their name on the ceiling above the bar.)
Fish tacos are a signature dish, as is the coconut curry soup. Other offerings include pizza, salads and sandwiches, along with their pulled pork and jerk chicken (both of which are featured together atop the “Bad Like Yazz” nachos.) Sides include the superior loaded baked potato salad, mashed sweet potatoes, island slaw, gingered baked beans, greens, coconut rum rice and Montego’s signature miniature muffins. The queso dip is house-made, as is the barbecue sauce and the jerk seasoning, both their original recipes. There is a full bar featuring 24 beers on tap, along with wine and specialty cocktails, such as the Key lime martini that Brandon says is “like liquid Key lime pie.” There is usually a dessert of the day, often pineapple cheesecake, and a brownie à la mode. Outdoor dining is available on the front patio, and there are several flat-screen televisions for football viewing. Live music is frequently featured on non-football nights. Future plans include delivery service to Providence and a drive-through window for call-ahead orders.
On the Menu
Coconut Curry Soup
This intriguing soup, lightly flavored with both coconut and curry, is laden with smoked pulled chicken, bits of pineapple and jasmine rice. It packs a spicy, creeping heat.
A satiny, savory gumbo-like broth is full of black beans, smoked pulled pork and a heap of greens piled in the center.
A trio of tortillas is topped with nicely spiced blackened fish, island slaw with a touch of pineapple, cucumber slices and lush, snappy lime-cilantro sour cream sauce.
This creamy, delightfully tangy, pineapple-laced, petite pie with a graham-cracker crust is capped with a plume of whipped cream.
Montego’s Caribbean Café and Bar
11 a.m. – until. M – Sa; 11 a.m. -3 p.m. Su.
6601 Airport Blvd. • 634-3445.
text by Sallye Irvine • photo by Ashley Rowe