I’m a fan of jerk. No, not rude people. I’m a fan of jerk: the Jamaican-style of barbecuing meat. It’s very difficult to find authentic jerk in the United States, including at most every Jamaican restaurant I’ve eaten at in the States. So, if I want good, authentic, jerk pork, chicken, or whatever else, I usually have to make it myself at home.
You know what’s more fun than firing up the smoker and cooking at home? Going to Jamaica and eating freshly cooked jerk, while you’re looking at the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Yeah, that sounds way more fun, right? Even in Jamaica, though, not all jerk restaurants are created equally. Honestly, I’ve never eaten anywhere that I just didn’t like their jerk, but some places have established a bit more of a reputation than others.
If you are meandering along the A1 highway in Jamaica, the main road that hugs the north coast, you are going to pass one of the better known jerk restaurants, so you might as well stop by for lunch. “Jerk Centre” is a common appellation for the roadside eateries that specialize in this uniquely Jamaican style of smoking meats. This one, as the name indicates, considers itself to be the “Ultimate”. Is it really the ultimate? Eh…who’s to say? Tastes are subjective, so I don’t normally like to declare things to be definitively “the best”, but I do consider the Ultimate Jerk Center in Discovery Bay to be a solid example of the style and definitely worth a visit.
At the Ultimate Jerk Center, you will get the usual options of jerk pork and jerk chicken and, at least occasionally, they serve up more exotic items, such as jerk rabbit. Whichever you choose, you can’t really make a bad choice. You also have the usual sides – rice and peas, festival (a type of bread), breadfruit, etc. and if someone in your party simply isn’t a fan of jerk, you can always get some fish and bammy (another type of bread), or go for the curried goat.
While there are many other jerk centres along the north coast, some of which may prove better in the jerk department, if you’re vacationing in the area, it’s hard to beat this place for location. Discovery Bay is right on the well worn path from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios and beyond. The Ultimate Jerk Center is on the beach side of the highway, so you can enjoy a nice, sea breeze, while dining in the open air facility. Almost directly across the street is the Green Grotto Cave, a popular attraction that is open for tours. Right behind the restaurant is the grounds of the Ultimate Sports Club, which is essentially a cricket field. If you’re lucky, there will be a game underway, offering the opportunity to watch a game that is rarely seen by North Americans, despite being quite popular throughout much of the world.