Garifuna Flava in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood has been offering a taste of Belizean cuisine ever since it opened 15 years ago.
The restaurant, located at 2518 W. 63rd St., is just one many being highlighted as part of Black Restaurant Week, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 24.
“My wife loves to cook,” said owner Rhodel, “Rhodee,” Castillo. “We were entertaining a lot of people at home, and one day I said to her, ‘listen, a lot of people enjoy your food. I’m going to open a restaurant so you can showcase what you got.’”
Castillo is also a musician who frequently performs resistance music around Chicago. He loves to explain the rich history of the Belizean people and show off their cuisine.
“We are a nation of people, with roots from Africa, Mali,” he explained. “We’ve been in the Caribbean as early as the 1300’s.”
Another establishment being highlighted, Bell Heir’s BBQ, 704 W. 47th St., opened its doors earlier this year in New City.
Owner Tyris Bell prides himself on offerings not generally found at BBQ joints.
“Like we have fried green tomatoes, you don’t really see that at a BBQ restaurant, fried pickles,” he said. “I’m going to actually add a new item to the menu, catfish po boy, real soon.”
These are 2 of 28 Chicago restaurants, food trucks and catering companies participating in the nationwide Black Restaurant Week.
Taylor’s Tacos, 1512 West Taylor, is also participating, and, according to Black Restaurant Week cofounder Derek Robinson, Taylor’s is getting extra support from their foundation.
“They were able to not only get $10,000s in grants and funds, they were also able to receive six months of business development support of their choosing,” he said.
This annual culinary event is an important marketing tool for these establishments.
“Highlighting us as businesses brings attention and hopefully more support to our business,” Castillo said.