It’s all love at Chelly’s. Owned and operated by Parnette Peoples since 2013, the family-run operation is filled with loving energy and fabulous cuisine. This is a quaint, homey spot, serving up authentic Jamaican comfort food with a narrow dining area. It has counter service where to-go and pick-up orders are collected, but also seating for up to 50 people.
Peoples credits her daughter, Natalie McKay, with making it happen from day one. Her daughter, a doctor, financed the project. And as I dined at Chelly’s, I met Peoples’ daughter-in-law, husband and other family members, who all assist with making the family business work.
Peoples, who hails from Savannah-la-Mar in Jamaica and migrated to the United States in 2006, explains that her dream to be a chef and restaurant owner culminated in opening Chelly’s.
Their menu is filled with traditional Jamaican comfort foods and less typical offerings, including seafood like shrimp, lobster and conch. My server, Samantha, was also the manager on duty and was quick to suggest that I try their jerk chicken, curried conch and peppered shrimp.
Chelly’s peppered shrimp is delish. Ever wonder how they get those to be so amazingly bright red? The shrimps are sauteed in a bath of mixed spices like scotch bonnet, paprika or cayenne pepper from which they absorb the color. These shrimp are a throwback to my childhood trips through BlackRiver in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. I would see people selling river shrimp in small, clear plastic bags on the side of the road for a tasty snack. The ones on the table before me were large shrimp in-shell, with a crunchy exterior, tender and flavorful meat, and dangerously spicy. Be cautious and enjoy.
The curried conch is the star of the show, smothered in a light and loose Caribbean curry sauce sweet peppers, onions, and carrots. The dish offers undercurrents of thyme and Scotch Bonnet peppers. This is genuinely a winner. The conch is surprisingly tender with the slightest of breading, and I’m definitely going back for more. Although I had this as just an appetizer-sized sampling, it is regularly available as a complete meal with rice.
My main course was jerk chicken with rice and peas, steamed vegetables and fried plantains. It was quite unique and interesting. The appearance and flavor were authentic, however, the texture varies from what I expected. Jerk is typically served as dry, grilled meat, sometimes with a sauce to offer some moisture, but at Chelly’s the meat remains extremely moist. I thought for a moment that the chicken was a stew but it wasn’t served in a gravy. The steamed vegetables were soft and well seasoned, and included cabbage, carrot, corn and string beans. The fried plantain was ripe, sweet and a perfect compliment to the meal.
If you’re looking for authentic Jamaican comfort food to take you back to your roots, Chelly’s is the spot.
9160 W. Commercial Blvd., Sunrise, FL 33351 (Sunrise West Shopping Center on Commercial Boulevard near Pine Island Road)