The Budget Epicureans Review: Jamaica’s Comfort Zone

Each week, the Budget Epicureans select an eatery, take-out establishment or recipe that we feel represents high quality and solid value. Bonus points are awarded for healthy options.

The Seahawk Landing shopping center is something of a no-man’s land. It’s not quite within convenient walking distance of UNCW’s dorms, nor does it seem destination enough to justify driving. Accordingly, it’s exactly where one might expect to find a well-kept secret. Jamaica’s Comfort Zone, an authentic entry into Wilmington’s growing Caribbean cuisine category, is that secret.

Tucked away in the back of the mall, JCZ’s interior décor tries a bit too hard to compensate for the dull outside: the bar area is covered in a faux-grass roof, with bar stools and chairs meant to look borrowed from an island resort. Reggae—including a recent rendition of the Peter Tosh classic “Legalize It” for our visit—plays continually over the sound system. According to what we suspect is federal law in Jamaica, Bob Marley’s portrait adorned the wall near our table.

JCZ’s menu features island staples as well as the more familiar: goat and ox tail sit alongside iterations of shrimp, salmon and whiting, with a seafood emphasis reflecting traditional Caribbean eating habits. Prominent sauces are jerk (a Jamaican standard featuring allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers) and Caribbean curry.

For this visit, we tried a Jamaican ginger beer to drink. This experience is as different from a domestic ginger ale as Guinness is to Natural Light. One must truly like ginger, perhaps more than we did.

We began with fried green tomatoes ($4.95) drizzled with a spicy brown jerk sauce—delightful. Off to a good start, we ordered the four-course vegetarian meal ($9.95) and the Cajun-grilled salmon ($12) with sautéed spinach and edamame (young green soy beans in the pod) with a side of home-style macaroni and cheese. The vegetarian meal consisted of a fresh, tasty garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette, blissfully free of repulsive iceberg lettuce. Next was pepper pot soup (spinach, dumplings, sliced hot peppers and vermicelli), followed by curried broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and peppers over jerk rice, with a side of collard greens. The soup was spicy and flavorful and the curry tangy, well-seasoned and filling, although the collards were a bit bland. Dessert was pineapple bread pudding with whipped topping, pleasantly sweet with a nice texture.

The salmon meal was nothing short of fantastic. It was moist and delicious, and it justified a return trip by itself. Amazingly, after eating possibly the most expensive meal available, our bill came in just under $33. Students with ID’s can get off even easier, with daily combo specials for $5.99. A note to the harried: the service, while friendly and knowledgeable, is on “island time.” Those seeking a quick and efficient meal, rather than a relaxed and delicious one, should probably search elsewhere. Jamaica’s Comfort Zone features live music on weekends.


Price range: $8-$15

Store Hours:

Closed Mondays

Tuesday-Saturday 11:45 a.m.-9:00 p.m.

Sunday 3:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Jamaica’s Comfort Zone

417 S. College Rd. Unit #24

Wilmington, NC 28403


Phone: 910.399.2867

Fax: 910.399.2868