Yeh Man: a Slice of Jamaica in Our Own Backyard

It's Time to Add Some Flavor to Your Lunch

When you’re ready to replace your typical lunch spot, take yourself to Yeh Man for an authentic Jamaican experience straight to your taste buds. On a recent visit to the restaurant, I walked through the glass doors and waited in line behind a mass of UAB track athletes eager to dive into their boxes of jerked chicken and curry goat. Loud reggae music played in the background as the athletes hovered at the counter waiting on their lunch.

Located on Fourth Avenue North in Birmingham’s historic black business district, Yeh Man has three rooms: an ordering room, a dining room and a kitchen. The dining room can seat up to 20 people comfortably; the ordering room has some additional seating. The interior of the restaurant is painted a vibrant yellow and decorated with posters of musicians and local artists and events. The ordering counter contains a glass window that displays an array of tropical Caribbean sodas and fruit drinks. I tried a non-alcoholic ginger beer that tasted like a sweeter, milder variation on ginger ale. I ordered the Brown-Stew Chicken and took a seat while I waited on my food.

Colorful flags of Caribbean countries adorn the walls of the seating area, and an open walkway in the middle of the room separates the seats from the booths. In addition to salt and pepper shakers, the tabletop condiments at my table included a light and flavorful sauce in a red bottle. I recommend it highly: Drizzling this delicious liquid on your meal will give your taste buds the stimulation they deserve. Mauling your meal in this colorful cubbyhole is only made more enjoyable by the soulful vibes you’ll hear through the speakers.

While the spirited atmosphere brings energy to the restaurant, the flavorful food is the main attraction. All of the dishes on the menu are served with the option of rice and cabbage on the side. The cabbage is cooked perfectly: Not only is it fluffy and soft, but it retains a sweet and flavorful taste that goes well with any of the entrees. The rice and beans are a wonderful complement to the protein-heavy dishes offered on the menu.

No matter which meat dish you choose, the order will arrive fresh and tender enough to fall off the bone with little resistance. The jerk chicken has a peppery spice to it, but won’t overwhelm those who prefer their meal mild. Heat-seekers will want to employ the spicy sauce provided on the tables. The hot beef patties are seriously hot — fiery and addictive. The rush of flavors experienced within the first bite may have you hooked for life. Just give the dish a few moments to cool. Otherwise you might burn the taste buds off your tongue.

Finally, the curry goat is probably the best choice for daring eaters. Don’t let the crunching of goat bones discourage you. The authentic flavors more than make up for the awkward fragments you’ll find yourself pulling out of your mouth.

Yeh Man is located at 1623 Fourth Ave. North. Hours are Mon-Thurs 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat 12-8 p.m. Call (205) 323-3120 or visit the Yeh Man Facebook profile.