J.D. Herman

Cool island flavors and spicy Caribbean vibes are abundant at, what is undoubtedly, Houston’s best Jamaican restaurant. What started as a food truck and expanded to a restaurant and catering service, is a spot you should check out for lunch, dinner, or even drinks. Janay Henry and Chef Terron Henry have created a truly unique eatery in Cool Runnings. The restaurant is located on West Bellfort just east of Gessner in the Brays Oak Management.

Good Caribbean-style curry, one that has that fine combination of both sweet and spicy, is a rare treat in Hustletown. Caribbean-style curry is distinctly different than Asian/Indian-styles, relying heavily on the turmeric and punctuated with allspice. Cool Runnings is in a league of their own when it comes to Caribbean-style curry chicken. Chef Henry, having grown up in Jamaica, has perfected his recipe. The seasonings are balanced and the chicken is slow cooked, resulting in tender bites filled with flavor.

Another favorite of Cool Runnings is the goat curry. The lunch line was almost out the door when I visited and this was an item that kept being ordered again and again.
The other hot item was the Cool Runnings’ jerk chicken. Now, a good jerk chicken isn’t just spicy, it has to have a depth of flavors and that almost smoky tang. Chef Henry knocks it out of the park with his own jerk recipe, a housemade wet jerk and Madras curry powder. It is
mouth-wateringly good and is complemented by rice, cabbage, and plantains.

The menu includes all of the pescatarian options you’d expect, inspired by island living. I suspect anything they make is as good as the items I sampled. Heck, even Diners Drive-Ins and Dives featured Cool Runnings. Guy Fieri was smitten with the “exquisitely seasoned” oxtail curry. That’s certainly a worthwhile endorsement.

Janay Henry the owner and executive manager makes all the moving parts of the Cool, Runnings empire work. She was a human resources expert for Bank of America, Charles Schwab and then worked at the Clorox Company as an executive before bringing her considerable managerial talents to the business.

The food truck is a Houston favorite, and proved so wildly popular that it helped launch the restaurant and catering service. So, if you are not in the Brays Oak Management District and are in need of some chill island vibes, keep an eye out for the food truck at major events or check out their website calendar to see where the food truck will be next.

PRO TIP: I am hesitant to share this secret, but it’s too juicy not to tell you… Chef Henry and Janay might just make the best hamburger and fries in the city. Seriously. The “jerk fries” and the seasoning on their burger are next level and if you have tried all the curries and fish options, you will be stunned at just how perfect their take on the classic burger is executed. Maybe it’s the island style grilled onions? I don’t know, it’s just amazingly good.

Cool Runnings
8270 W Bellfort Ave Houston, TX 77071
Ph: 713-777-1566
Menu and more at http://www.CoolRunningsJamaicanGrill.com