You know how some people play drinking games where they take a shot every time a character on a television show does a particular thing (for instance, every time Rachael Ray says yum-oh)? Well, let's say you substituted bacon for a shot of alcohol. If you did and you threw down a rasher of crisp pork belly every time you saw a rib, hot dog, wing, or pizza shack that said they had the "best [insert food item] in the world", you'd have had more massive coronaries than Dick Cheney by now.
The sad thing is, I think this works at least once. I mean, how can you ignore such hyperbole? And what if they're right and you just passed up the chance to have the best piece of deep fried chocolate fudge cheesecake on a stick on earth? As a Serious Eater, it's basically your duty to verify any and all "best ever" claims.
So you can imagine when I saw a sign claiming "The best jerk chicken" at D's Irie Kitchen on Chicago's southside, I immediately found myself wolfing down spicy chicken from a styrofoam clamshell and finger lickin' in a rocky parking lot while watching a plume of smoke rise from the rooftop of D's neon green painted confines.
As some of you know, last week I wrote a Chicago city eats guide to the best the city has to offer. One of the categories was not "best jerk chicken," but if there had been one, D's version would've stolen the show. I can't say whether or not it's the best in the world, as I haven't had a chance to do an entire global survey (Food Network, if you want to fund such a venture, I've got some time—maybe Alton Brown and I can do a series: Feasting on Spicy Bird).
But back to the chicken. For $5 you get a half chicken exhibiting the best characteristics of a grilled, smoked, and dry spiced rubbed bird. Like the best barbecue chicken, the skin was crackling and the sauce had sweet, smoky notes, followed by an allspice and pepper perfume. The tender, moist chicken shredded under my greedy teeth. The dense Jamaican bread sopped up the spice, while toothsome beans and fluffy rice also cooled the spice off. The spice did not overwhelm, but was hot enough to rock out a slight lip-tingling capsicum high. The chicken was so good, it lifted my spirits high enough to endure at least another ten visits to places that proclaim to have "the best" and fall short.
D's Irie Kitchen
11137 South Vincennes, Chicago, IL 60643 (at West Pryor Avenue; map)