If you look up “hole in the wall” in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Back A Yard. This tiny little Caribbean eatery is exactly my kind of place – it’s quirky, unique, and adored by locals. From the moment I first heard about this place I knew I’d have to pay it a visit.
” Oh, how I’ve dreamt about those sides “
I don’t tend to trust Yelp very much, thanks to their questionable policies and gangster-like business practices, but it’s worth noting that Back A Yard is perched comfortably on top of Yelp’s highest rated list for the area. That is no easy feat, even if you’ve paid your monthly protection money. But enough about Yelp. This is about a great little restaurant and its relationship to my stomach.
Parking at Back A Yard’s Menlo Park location is tricky at best, so if you have the opportunity to talk someone else into driving you there, you should. Once you manage to make your way inside, you will be greeted by an array of hand-written menu boards detailing the eight million different things you can order. There are a number of delightfully authentic choices available (Oxtails and sweet potato pudding anyone?), as well as a selection of more typically American lunch options.
On my first visit I opted for a barbecue chicken lunch. In retrospect this was a stupid choice, because why would I go out of my way to visit a Caribbean joint and then not order Caribbean food? Yeah, sometimes I don’t understand me either. In any case, the barbecue chicken was wonderful. It was cooked to perfection and absolutely drenched in sauce. It came with a healthy serving of crinkle fries, cole slaw, and a dinner roll. A metric ton of napkins were also provided, which was a good thing – it was MESSY.
Realizing that I had been an idiot, I returned a few days later and got myself some jerk chicken. Where, oh where has this place been all of my life?? The chicken was nothing short of amazing; it had an entire spice cupboard’s worth of flavor packed into every bite, and it was neither too spicy nor too mild. And the sides! Oh, how I’ve dreamt about those sides since I visited. The jerk chicken lunch comes with rice and beans – a personal favorite – as well as fried plantains – an even favoriter.. personal… uh, thing. I kind of wrote myself into a corner there.
Listen. It’s difficult to write sentences that make sense when you have fried plantains on the brain. They are one of the very best things in the entire world, and Back A Yard knows how to cook up a mean batch of them. Go get some. Now.
Back A Yard is exactly the kind of place I love discovering: A homey little joint with fantastic food tucked away in a forgotten corner of town. If you’re a fan of Caribbean cuisine, this is the place you’ve been looking for. If you’ve never tried Caribbean, then get your butt down to Menlo Park sometime and give it a whirl. This eatery earns a respectable 16 out of 18 deliciously fried plantain slices, making it well worth a lunchtime visit. Just remember to get there a bit early if you expect to both park and find a place to sit.
+ 1) Authentic
+ 2) Caribbean
+ 3) Food
+ See pros 1-3
– It’s tiny inside
– I mean like really tiny
+ But nobody cares about that
Back A Yard
Two locations in the Bay Area