In my experiences during Restaurant Weeks of past (here and here in 2019), the majority of my eating comes during the evening time for dinners throughout the week. When I got a glimpse of what was being offered during lunch during Visit Champaign County’s annual event, I immediately gravitated towards Caribbean Grill. I did this not only because Caribbean Grill’s offerings are typically delicious and consistent, but the fact that they were offering a $9 lunch was a no-brainer.
My fiancée and I paid a visit to Caribbean Grill, and while I’ve visited fairly often, this was her first time; I thought it might be fun to experience it with someone else who hasn’t given it a whirl. So, off we went to order two of the lunch options, anchored by two different types of dark chicken offerings: jerk chicken and hickory barbecue chicken.
Image: White plate of food with yellow corn on the left, two pieces of white bread in front topped with brown bone-in chicken. There's a small cup of dipping sauce in the middle of the plate. Photo by Anna Longworth.
Because we wanted to check out a bunch of sides, we ended up splitting our two meals because $18 for two is quite reasonable, especially given the plentiful portions. Basically, you get two-ish pieces of chicken and two sides of your choosing on each order. We went with rice ‘n peas, fried plantains, sweet corn, and BBQ baked beans. We totally would’ve chosen the mac ‘n cheese, but they were out, which is no big deal and we moved on. Each is served with a couple types of sauce: the jerk sauces has a bit more heat and barbecue that is a little more mild for dipping whatever you please. Both are delicious, the hotter one sneaks up on you after a few seconds.
Though some restaurants will experiment a bit with the menu, Caribbean Grill’s is what it is at a slight discount. Though eating chicken like this straight off the bone isn’t the neatest way to eat, the chicken was cooked perfectly. The outer skin is crispy, flavored just as advertised, and the meat itself so moist it falls off the bone.
Image: Overhead view of a white plate with two pieces of white bread with two pieces of bone-in browned chicken on top. Top left of plate features rice, top right of plate is browned plantains. Two cups of brown sauce sit on top of the plate. Photo by Anna Longworth.
Though the chicken takes up half the plate, the individual sides are also worthy of attention. The beans were so creamy. The rice ‘n peas could’ve been a bit warmer, but that tends to be forgotten once you realize you're continuing to eat and eat until it's gone. Even when you’re full, you want the sides to be a bottomless portion that, in your brain, you realize and know can’t really be possible. When all was said and done, we still had a few pieces of chicken left over that we took home as leftovers, which is nice considering how reasonable the price was on the deal for Restaurant Week.
Although Caribbean Grill’s offerings won’t really draw in someone who is looking for a new adventure at a restaurant they are familiar with (and as a magazine, we are familiar), I enjoyed the idea that it offered what they are great at serving, just at a slightly lower price. The restaurant is only open past 4 p.m. a few days a week, so in order to embrace Restaurant Week (emphasis on “week”), in the end, offering a lunch special makes a ton of sense. Thankfully there’s still time to grab a quick and plentiful lunch as Restaurant Week rolls on.
2135 S Neil St
M-Th 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
F-Sa 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.