When I was in San Francisco last week, the Sergeant wanted to check out a Jamaican place in San Leandro that he'd read about in the East Bay Express: Sweet Fingers. (East Bay Express is similar in format and content to Denver's Westword; it's part of the same chain.) On a Saturday night, it's a quick drive from Alameda, and there is plenty of street parking nearby.
The place is unprepossessing outside, and inside it's your basic bar/restaurant setup, bar along one side and a couple rows of tables on the other. Don't sit at the two-top closest to the door; the door chime on the wall there will drive you crazy. We moved farther down.
You might be greeted by Blondie, who is just about the friendliest waitress you could ever hope to meet. Seriously, every other word out of her mouth was "honey" or "sweetie" or "love," said with a big, genuine grin. As you can see from the pictures, she's very enthusiastic and energetic!
We started with an order of fried plantains. You get some with your meal, but I wanted a bunch because I like them very much. We also ordered the homemade ginger beer, which will knock your socks off. Very good!
For entrees, I had the coconut shrimp, which was luscious and coconutty, with some fresh thyme sprigs on top. The Sergeant ordered the curried goat. Both came with beans and rice.
Both were filling and very tasty. The Sergeant ate all of his goat. I ate most of the plantains, so I had to bring home some leftovers. I wish I'd saved room for the navy bean pie, but we'll try that on another visit.
As we were finishing our meal, a band set up on a small stage in the corner. (One speaker snafu during the sound check nearly blew our eardrums out.) Thursdays are poetry night, Fridays feature a DJ and dancing, and Saturdays are for Blade's Band, a trio of guitar, bass, drums and guest singers (essentially open mic). The entertainment starts at 9, so if you want to check it out, plan your dinnertime accordingly. We only heard a couple of songs (one being more hiphop than reggae, with a guest singer doing the lyrics), so I couldn't attest to the quality, but it looked like they were having a good time.
If you want to try some good Jamaican food in the Bay Area, check it out!
464 E 14th Street
San Leandro, CA 94577