Wynwood clearly becomes very different place during Art Basel. Artists from around the world descend on the central Miami neighborhood, painting murals on the sides of walls. Liquor companies set up tents to host lavish multi-day parties. Galleries sell paintings, photos and sculptures by the bushel. However, not much changes at Clive’s Cafe a tiny Caribbean establishment with high value food on the outskirts of Wynwood that Pearline Murray started with late husband Clifford decades ago, and now runs with sister-in-law/chef Gloria Chin.
The space features an L-shaped counter with 10 seats, four tables, and lime green walls touting a provocative travel poster of a woman in a “Jamaica No Problem” shirt and little more. Of course credit cards are no good at Clive’s. As a sign says on the wall: “In God we trust all others pay cash.”
The owners write specials on white butcher paper – jerk pork and stew peas during my visit – but we opted for main-menu selections. Red Pea Soup ($2 for small) was surprisingly hearty for such as mall serving, with beans acting as a thickening agent, plus potato chunks and shredded meat.
Curry Goat ($8.50) featured tender, bone-in nubs of mildly gamy meat coated in savory sauce. Each entree comes with a choice of two sides. My picks were crusty Mac & Cheese studded with minced green peppers and lightly caramelized plantain slices that soaked up the goat-infused curry sauce.
Crusty Jerk Chicken ($8.50) touted spice-rubbed skin and sported meat with remarkably little fat for dark meat, and as an accent, a squiggle of spicy sauce. The thigh and drumstick adjoined rice and red beans, plus peppery steamed vegetables like cabbage, celery and carrot.
Sorrel ($3) was basically a purple-hued hibiscus “agua fresca” with welcome ginger kick.
Their pattie was especially good, featuring flaky yellow dough and a red dot signifying a beef filling. There’s no telling what color dot the chicken pattie would have sported, though it would have been pretty easy to find out with a simple look inside the pastry incubator by the counter.
Dumpling was a fried hushpuppy-like fritter with savory crust and supple yellow core.
Clive’s showcases big yellow cakes on pedestals near the register, but we abstained, satisfied with our savory meal. Of all my meals in Miami, Clive’s Cafe is the restaurant where I’d most likely become a regular thanks to its welcoming Cheers-like vibe, flavorful food and low prices.