A flavor of the Caribbean on the Peninsula at Flavas Jamaican Grill 

click to enlarge Flavas Jamaican Grill
  • Nathaniel Y. Downes/Special to the S.f. Examiner
  • Flavas Jamaican Grill in South San Francisco serves Jamaican escovitched snapper filet with pickled onion, carrots in a savory and spicy sauce with rice and beans.
It’s feeling a little more tropical this summer in South San Francisco with the arrival of Flavas Jamaican Grill. The iconic dish of Jamaica — tangy, sweet and spicy grilled jerk chicken — is the signature, but that’s far from the only island specialty on the menu. Curried goat, braised oxtails and “escovitched” snapper filet (with pickled vegetables and spices) are also very popular. Mixing Jamaican and American dishes, you can even find a jerk cheeseburger. The menu also includes starters like codfish fritters and jerk pork pieces with glazed plantains, and key lime pie or Jamaican rum cake for dessert. It’s a little known fact that many Caribbean restaurants use MSG, but Flavas doesn’t use any. Prices are very reasonable, with sandwiches and salads for lunch around $6 and main courses in the low teens. Flavas’ atmosphere is relaxed with plenty of reggae as the soundtrack — just like Jamaica without the humidity.

314 Linden Ave., South San Francisco; (650) 244-9785. FlavasJamaicanGrill.com

San Mateo

The ever popular and rapidly growing creative sandwich specialist, Ike’s Place, just opened a San Mateo outpost. This is the 15th Ike’s Place in the Bay Area after starting seven years ago in San Francisco. Ike Shehadeh’s over-stuffed sandwiches are never shy on flavor combinations or names. The café is as colorful as the sandwiches, plashed in purple and yellow. Options in San Mateo include “The 49er” with Halal chicken and a buffalo wing sauce, and there are dozens of vegan and vegetarian selections. There are 300 sandwiches on the menu and secret menu, ranging from Superman-themed to Giants players. Enjoy the “Lincecum” with avocado, bacon, ham and turkey, then go pitch a no-hitter after lunch.

680 E Third Ave., San Mateo; (650) 375-8900. Ilikeikesplace.com.

Another week and another local pearl milk tea café opens. Tea River in San Mateo specializes in various flavors of milk tea with tapioca pearls and other fillings but also features numerous other drinks and even food items. The first choice is between cold and hot drinks, then between regular teas, flavored teas and milk teas, with over 50 options to choose from in those sections alone. If you’re not in a tea mood, smoothies and health drinks are also served. To eat, the choices are mostly dessert-influenced like crepes, macarons and honey toast. Unlike many other cafes of this genre, this is a pleasant cafe with a full seating area of wooden floors, ruby colored velvet chairs and wooden planks on the wall evoking shelves.

220 S B St., San Mateo; No phone or website.

Today in San Mateo, the Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association is holding the 19th annual San Francisco Bay Area Aloha Festival, bringing a taste of the islands to the Peninsula at the San Mateo County Event Center. Hawaiian cuisine favorites including plate lunches, lomi lomi salmon, and of course, poi, will be served alongside the hula dancing and ukulele music. Admission to the festival is free and alcohol is not permitted.

1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo; No phone. Pica-org.org/alohafest.

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