Clives Cafe has been dishing fare on North Miami Avenue in Wynwood for over 35 years. Pearline Murray and her late husband Clifford named the restaurant after their son Clive, who is in his forties now.
Back when the couple first opened the little eatery, the area was bustling with busy, worker-filled factories -- 250 people were employed at one such factory right across the street. Then the neighborhood went quiet for quite a long time, at which point Pearline switched the menu to Jamaican and served curry goat, cows foot, oxtail, and jerk chicken.
Wynwood is, of course, on the up-and-up again, and Clive's finds itself sandwiched between newer restaurants such as Jimmy'z Kitchen Wynwood and Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. This is a good thing, as some of the more adventurous driving through will no doubt be intrigued by the jerk chicken sign in the window and stop in to give it a try. That's what my wife and I did while heading home from midtown yesterday afternoon.
Reggae music plays softly on a radio. A faded notation of Miami New Times' Best Jamaican Restaurant award from 2002 is one of numerous items making holes in the wall in this hole-in-the-wall. It is said that Lenny Kravitz takes in the scene here when he's around. It's funky, it's friendly, and the food we tried was really tasty.
Especially the curry goat, with meat moist and spicy falling off snippets of bone. As with other main plates -- beef stew, cows foot, stew peas -- $8.50 price includes choice of rice & peas or white rice, plus salad or plantains or vegetables.
Other plates: Shrimp comes steamed, curried, or fried; fish comes in brown stew, steamed, or fried; chicken comes baked, curried, fried, in brown stew, or jerk -- the last spiced and cooked on an open pit in back and topped with sprightly, piquant jerk sauce. The price is $7, with same choice of sides as above.
Sandwiches such as grilled cheese ($2) and BLT ($4) are offered too, but better to stick with the Jamaican fare. Breakfast is noteworthy: Two eggs any style with bacon or ham, grits or potatoes, and toast ($3.99). Other breakfast options are ackee, cabbage, and liver, each served with banana, yam, and "dumplin'".
Thirsty? All sorts of intriguing island beverages are on tap, like D&G soda, Ting grapefruit soda, and homemade sorrel juice and ginger beer. The last is zingy with the namesake root and very refreshing. Red Stripe is $3, as are imports such as Guinness and Heineken. ("Sold with meals only," meaning that the limited counter seats are for eating, not boozing.)
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Café con leche was good too; I had it with a great homemade wedge of red velvet cake.
So guess what I'm saying is that we liked our lunch at Clive's Cafe. I wouldn't be surprised if we made it a semi-regular stop when in the neighborhood.