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Jamaica Jeff’s in Belmont Center offers flavors of the Caribbean

Owner Jeffrey Lesseter at Jamaica Jeff's in Belmont, where he built the bar himself.
Owner Jeffrey Lesseter at Jamaica Jeff's in Belmont, where he built the bar himself.Lane Turner/Globe staff

Where to Jamaica Jeff’s in Belmont Center, in the space that formerly housed the restaurant Kashish Indian Cuisine. Now it’s done up with flags of the Caribbean, brightly colored tables, and a shiny blue motorcycle in the storefront window. It’s been open for two months.

Why To slip into one of the 14 tables and feel happy. At lunch, for the moment, owner Jeff Lasseter is the waiter and he’s a welcoming, enthusiastic host, delighted you’re in his place. He’ll offer you everything but the aqua blue Caribbean water and snorkeling equipment.

Ribs at Jamaica Jeff's in Belmont.
Ribs at Jamaica Jeff's in Belmont. Lane Turner/Globe staff

The Back Story Lasseter, who was known as “Jamaica Jeff” when he lived in Kingston, Jamaica, while working for the US State Department, got to know and love the the food and drink of the region. He was assigned to all the neighboring islands and had lived in Barbados (and Africa, South America, Europe, and Southwest Asia). For some of his time abroad, his family stayed in Belmont, so he decided it was the ideal place to open a restaurant.

Jamaica Jeff's Key Lime pie
Jamaica Jeff's Key Lime pie Lane Turner/Globe staff

What to Eat Jerk chicken (you’ll gnaw the bones), baby back ribs, jerk pork, fried or sauteed fish of the day, Caesar with plump shrimp, a wedge of citrusy, creamy Key Lime pie, and more.


What to Drink Lasseter has one of Belmont’s coveted all-alcohol licenses. He built a bar with 12 seats — he did much of the renovation himself — and offers Red Stripe lager (from Jamaica), along with Carib beer (Trinidad and Tobago), and Banks (Barbados); many rums, including Mount Gay (Barbados), Kirk and Sweeney (Dominican Republic), Havana Club rum, local craft beers, wine, and a full bar.

Half of a jerk chicken at Jamaica Jeff's.
Half of a jerk chicken at Jamaica Jeff's.Lane Turner/Globe staff

The Takeaway The owner says he hired the first dozen high school students, with or without experience, who came in looking for a wait staff job. He wants them to put down their phones, learn life skills, and interact with the community. They’re learning as they go. (Lasseter is a dad of two teenagers.) This is a real neighborhood place with an attentive, indefatigable host who wants very much for you to enjoy yourself. And with a background of calypso, afrobeats, soca, dancehall, and reggae, you can’t help but get into the spirit. 61 Leonard St., Belmont Center, Belmont, 617-484-5333, www.facebook.com/JamaicaJeffs.


Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.