Where To: Family Affair, serving soul food and Caribbean cooking in Dorchester’s Uphams Corner.
Why: For fried chicken and red velvet waffles, oxtail dinners, and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
The Back Story: This is chef-owner Jermaine Tulloch’s first restaurant, and a career switch for the former educator. A Dorchester native, he attended Boston Arts Academy and Longy School of Music, where he studied opera, going on to perform with groups including the Harlem Gospel Choir. He then became a music and special-education teacher in the Boston public schools from which he graduated. (If you make it to an event, like a recent sold-out Paint Night, you might even catch him performing.) Family Affair was a catering company first, and now it’s a restaurant with counter service and a few tables and booths. Jermaine’s mother, Hulda Tulloch, holds down the Caribbean side of the menu in the kitchen. She’s originally from Montserrat in the British West Indies.
What to Eat: There are appetizers like crab rangoon rolls; dinners of fried porgy, mango coconut shrimp, BBQ ribs, and curry chicken; sides of mac and cheese, candied yams, rice and peas, cabbage; and a case of desserts. But at every table, there seems to be at least one person eating chicken and waffles out of a takeout pizza box. Each order includes a thigh and a drumstick, and waffles can be upgraded from plain to red velvet or apple pie. There’s also a specials board, constantly changing. On a recent visit, it included a “fish sammich” with fries, Nutella-chocolate chicken and waffles, steak and cheese eggrolls, and apple pie rolls. That last, sweet apple pie filling in a crisp spring-roll skin, is a special only in theory: It’s been so popular, Tulloch says, it hasn’t left the rotation yet.
What to Drink: You’ll find the usual water, soda, and juice, along with bottled Jamaican ginger beer.
The Takeaway: Family Affair serves up indulgence and positive vibes, from the inspirational Bible quotes written on the chalkboard to the reasonably priced menu of comfort food (it tops out at $14).
554 Columbia Road, Dorchester, 617-514-4458, www.famaffairboston.com