Slow-cooked comfort food meets fast casual dining at Caribbean-American grill
THE SANTA CLARA
October 20, 2016
As the weather cools and grays here in the South Bay, we are all left looking for a sunny safehaven. Luckily, in Downtown San Jose, Back A Yard offers up a slice of Caribbean paradise.
The layout of the restaurant is bright and cozy—the red-orange and green color scheme contrasts the brick walls, which are uniquely adorned with murals. Smiling waitstaff strike up conversations and give friendly suggestions for what to order. Back A Yard’s welcoming atmosphere makes you feel as if you’re actually dining in a friend’s backyard.
But the food is what sets Back A Yard apart from any other backyard cook-out. First and foremost is the jerk chicken, which is intensely flavored with both a wet marinade and dry rub. The usual suspects like allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers are featured, but traditional fall flavors like cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon add a depthful spiciness that is assertive, but not overwhelming. The juiciness of the chicken and fragrance of the spices work together to create the perfect bite of Caribbean flavor.
Back A Yard also tosses their jerk spice on a variety of other meats, including pork and salmon. Customers have the option of ordering multi-meat combo plates, which come with red beans and rice (delightfully flavored with coconut), salad and fried plantains.
The fried plantains are revelatory—caramelized on the outside, pillowy on the inside—and taste like a cross between Bananas Foster and a baked potato. Other side options include creamy macaroni and cheese, cooling coleslaw and collard greens—which are cooked all day and feature a vinegary, peppery flavor profile.
In addition to Caribbean classics, Back A Yard also churns out traditional Southern barbecue dishes. Hot links and chicken get slathered with a sweet and spicy sauce that provides ample moisture and flavor. However, the standout is the ribs. The charred and crunchy crust compliments the smoky meat, which unsurprisingly rips clean off the bone. Pair it with Back A Yard’s house-made hot sauce and you’ll hit every flavor sensation on the rainbow.
For those looking for something outside the box, I recommend the beef oxtails. The fatty, tender meat helplessly falls of the bone, soaking up the savory, slow-cooked sauce. It’s the epitome of comfort food—a must-have for cold weather food lovers.
Back A Yard’s sweetest surprise of all is their dessert menu. The key lime and pecan pies are perfectly executed, and the pineapple upside down cake is a pleasantly light and airy meal-capper.
Most noteworthy of all is the sweet potato pudding, which is so inexplicably delicious that it confirmed my belief in a divine power. More specifically though, it’s a smooth, sweet and spicy slice of maple and brown sugar infused bliss. Trust me, it’s heaven.
Nix your usual take-out order and head over to Back A Yard now. The traditional island treats offer an escape from the typical college diet of pizza, beer, ice cream and shame. It’s paradise.
Contact Jimmy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554- 4852.