Pimento Jamaican Kitchen brings the jerk and zest of Jamaica to Eat Street

Minneapolis's "Eat Street" provides hungry residents with a variety of food options. Pimento Jamaican Kitchen brings a fresh taste and feel to the diverse Minneapolis restaurant scene.

Matt Olson

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Pimento Jamaican Kitchen brings the jerk and zest of Jamaica to Eat Street

Nathanael Ashton-Piper, Staff Writer

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Located on Nicollet Avenue at the heart of “Eat Street,” Pimento Jamaican Kitchen is home to authentic West Kingston cuisine. Pimento has spiced up Eat Street with jerk meats, zesty sauces, rice, beans, and crunchy coleslaw. By blending different flavors and food groups together, Pimento has filled the void that was Jamaican food on Eat Street—and done so stupendously.

Pimento’s origins provide a story unlike most restaurants out there. In 2009, Minnesota native, and Jewish rapper, Yoni Reinharz moved in next to Tomme Beevas—a business executive from Jamaica. The two would go on to hold many barbecues together and discovered a mutual love and skill for cooking. After a trip to Jamaica, the two founded Pimento Kitchen.

The spacious entry and eating area fit right into Pimento’s casual environment. Adjacent to well-known spots such as the Bad Waitress, Black Sheep Pizza, and Glam Doll Donuts, Pimento gives the average eater a different flavor before even walking in the door. On the facade in the front entrance hangs a banner from the prominent TV channel, Food Network.

Pimento boasts quite the accomplishment, as they won a season of the network’s show “Food Court Wars,” in which two teams of entrepreneurs compete against each other in a food battle; the winner receives a food court restaurant of their own, rent-free for a year. In addition to the location on Eat Street, Pimento’s original food-court location is in Burnsville.

There’s no cutting corners with this meal; the quality and presentation were on point—even though I got my meal to-go.”

— Nathanael Ashton-Piper

Pictures of Bob Marley and other Jamaican relics line the walls, and the smell of a jerk rub emanates from the kitchen. The menu consists of only five entrees: Kingston style jerk chicken, slow-roasted jerk pork, the one love special (jerk pork and jerk chicken), curry veggies, and curry chicken. However, the small menu size doesn’t matter; all are great choices and leave no room for doubt. I tried the slow-roasted jerk pork with rice, beans, Jamaican slaw, Minnesota Nice barbecue sauce, and two plantains. There’s no cutting corners with this meal; the quality and presentation were on point—even though I got my meal to-go. The plantains are the only item included on the side, otherwise, mixing up all the foods and barbecue sauce is the way to go.

The slow-roasted pork delivers a spicy, smoky flavor, and is tender to the bite. The rice and beans offer a nice contrast to the style of the meal, but there’s one outlier made this dish even better. The Jamaican slaw—and I’m not normally a fan of coleslaw—blends perfectly with the meat and barbecue sauce, and it provides a fresh crunch to the dish. The freshness and variety the slaw brought to this meal elevated it to another level.

Overall, Pimento is a fun twist for a traditional American palette. The street cuisine speaks well to the ever-growing ethnic food scene of Minneapolis. Pimento receives no complaints from me, with the colorful background, inspiring coming of age story, and course of the food. Until proven otherwise, Pimento is the premier spot for Jamaican cuisine in Minneapolis. Until proven otherwise, Pimento is the premier spot for Jamaican cuisine in Minneapolis.

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