Many cultures have a signature fried dough dish, from Italian zeppoli to Latin American sopapillas. In Jamaica, the sweet golden dough treats are called festivals—finger-shaped fried orbs that taste somewhere between a funnel cake and hushpuppies. Chef Marlon McKnight will serve them as a side at Jerk N Juice, D.C.’s latest destination for Jamaica food, when it launches on Dec. 1.
His company, which launched as a food truck, is one of the newest culinary businesses to set up shop inside the Tastemakers food incubator, food hall, and bar in Brookland (2800 10th St. NE). Diners can try McKnight’s menu Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Dishes range from a jerk chicken BLT to braised oxtails and curried shrimp, and you can pair each meal with a tropical fruit juice to which alcohol can be added. View the full menu below.
McKnight, who goes by Chef Marlonz, started working in Jamaican hotel kitchens at age 14, making bacon and ham. “We’d get whole pigs from a butcher in the country and break them down,” he says. Later he went to a technology college and enrolled in some culinary classes. Afterwards, he moved to the town of Negril, where he trained under Chinese and Italian chefs and led kitchens at several restaurants.
When McKnight first moved to the United States, he settled in South Carolina and spent time in several other states before a job at Sam’s Club ultimately brought him to Maryland, where he started his company.
Catering is a major component of McKnight’s business, and you can order Jerk N Juice on UberEats, Grubhub, and DoorDash if you can’t pick it up in person. He hopes to open a brick and mortar restaurant in the future.
The menu for Tastemakers includes the following dishes and drinks:
Jerk Chicken ($12)
Strips of boneless chicken dark meat marinated in house made jerk seasoning served with your choice of two sides
Jerk Meatball Sub ($10)
Ground beef seasoned with our signature Jerk seasoning, served on a hoagie roll
Jerk chicken BLT ($10)
Chicken seasoned with our signature Jerk seasoning, with smoked bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes
Jerk Salmon ($15)
Salmon seasoned and grilled with our house jerk seasoning, and jerk sauce, with your choice of two sides
Curried Chicken ($12)
Strips of boneless chicken cooked in a curry sauce with herbs and spices served with your choice of two sides
Braised Oxtails ($18)
Oxtails braised and stewed with butter beans, peppers, and onions with choice of two sides
Curried Shrimp ($13)
Jumbo shrimp sautéed in curry and spices, carrots, and potatoes served with two sides
Sides: Rice n peas, mac n cheese, plantains, steamed cabbage, festival bread, and home fries
Juices: ($3 or $7 with alcohol): Island punch, mango carrot, and guava pineapple
Jerk N Juice at Tastemakers, 2800 10th St. NE; chefmarlonz.com