The Orion

Chico’s Sipho’s offers Jamaican flavor on a budget

This+Jamaican+restaurant+is+located+next+to+the+orchards+along+Dayton+Highway.+Photo+credit%3A+Natalie+Hanson
This Jamaican restaurant is located next to the orchards along Dayton Highway. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

This Jamaican restaurant is located next to the orchards along Dayton Highway. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

This Jamaican restaurant is located next to the orchards along Dayton Highway. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

Natalie Hanson

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When looking for a unique, authentic meal in Chico, one may not think “cheap” first. Surprisingly, there are some real treats hidden in plain sight here in town, once you’re tired of having burgers and pizza downtown for a month straight, without breaking the bank.

Sipho’s is a hidden delight in Chico. It’s a burst of Jamaican flavor tucked away on the corner of Pomona Avenue and Dayton Road.

The restaurant looks like a converted home with a tall fence, but once you enter its vivid walls, it’s full of colorful murals and resort-inspired decor and seating. Sipho’s lets you know it’s a different kind of laid-back retreat.

Sign

Palm fronds and bright paint make this building stand out. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

Sipho’s has an indoor bar, outside patio, its own outdoor stage for musical entertainment and set-aside areas for larger parties.

Brightly painted and adorned with palm fronds, on a sunny day with the air drenched in barbecue smoke you’d have no idea you’re in the backyard of a restaurant on the outskirts of Chico.

Encouraged by an experienced friend, I ordered the jerk chicken and the waitress excitedly told me the meat had been marinating for four days.

Jerk Dish

The jerk chicken dish offers the Jaimaican style barbecued entree. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

Even if you don’t eat meat, abundant flavor and heavy seasoning is always a good sign in my book and it kept getting better from there.

Fried and caramelized plantains, a small “cooking banana” variety, were the appetizers. My dish of deeply barbecued and seasoned chicken on a bed of island rice, kidney beans and side salad brought me to shades of flavors I’d never experienced. The chicken was very well-seasoned and cooked to stay moist from marinating inside a barbecued skin. The rice soaks up the flavor and enhances it.

Jamaican food served here is spiced with rich flavor and, for entrees, offers a variety of meats and fish with rice and beans. If you’re feeling adventurous after trying jerk meat, next time get one of the entrees like curried goat or the oxtail, served with the same rice, beans and salad. Dishes like Ackee and Salt or Escovitch fish can get you a unique taste of islander-style seafood.

They do offer a vegetarian selection of curries, stews and pasta, and an assortment of unique appetizers alongside the plantains such as dumplings, “festivals” (deep fried flour and cornmeal) and “Island Fries.” Soups and salads with the signature jerk meat or fish are also available for under $10.

Is the price student-friendly?

My portion was dinner-sized and came to about $12.48 with tax and tip. including a discount. This month, Sipho’s is offering 20 percent off for students with ID, so that’s one more reason to try it out.

But the menu is full of cheaper and smaller options with just as much flavor. The wraps and tacos are all under $11, excluding tip, so you can get a variety of meat and veggie options at lunchtime. Soups and salads are all under $10 or get the smaller portions of entrees like the curried chicken and stewed chicken and you can still make it under $12 including tip.

Don’t be deceived by the location of this place. It may be tucked away on the edge of town but if you’ve never tried Jamaican food and enjoy rich flavors and a full-bodied spice, Sipho’s is worth the experience.

The servers are enthusiastic and passionate about the food. A variety of shows and events are offered here if you need another reason to enjoy a night out by the orchards. Sipho’s proves that it can be entirely affordable and offer an authentic Caribbean meal in Chico.

Hours:

Open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Location:

1228 Dayton Rd.

Natalie Hanson can be reached at [email protected] or @NatalieH_Orion on Twitter.

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Chico’s Sipho’s offers Jamaican flavor on a budget