It’s unfortunate, but pretty normal, for parts of town near major military bases to be pretty blighted. The businesses that cater to the needs of America’s fighting men and women usually are pawn shops, title loan places, and strip clubs. Sure, I know that Congress has regulated the ability of service members to get payday loans, but you know what I’m saying. Outside the gates of major military instillations, you usually see a bunch of broken down, busted up crap. Not nice parts of town.
This is true also of Montgomery’s Maxwell and Gunter Air Force Base. Now, if you’ve spent much time in Montgomery, you’ll know that there are plenty of parts of town that are in rough shape. But the area outside the Air Force base sort of stands out to me, if for no other reason than you expect some of the federal dollars to trickle out into the community. Nope. We might be training Saudi princes to fly billion dollar fighter jets, but once you cross that line into civilian land, you get boarded up windows and trash-strewn empty lots.
All of which is a round-about way of saying that if you want to eat at Island Delight and get some great Caribbean food, you have to go near the crappy part of town by the air base. There, people wearing camoflage stand in line next to the posters of Bob Marley and the laminated USA Today articles about Usain Bolt, waiting to ordered items emitting mouth-watering smells from the lunch bar.
You order at the bar, watch them put together a plate for you, and then pay and take your food back to one of the few tables in the tiny restaurant. The atmosphere is clean and friendly. Many of the customers seem to know the staff quite well, and often each other too. There’s an air of friendship, perhaps some sort of bonding that happens over soft, spiced chicken.
As readers of this blog know, we are vegetarian, meaning that I can’t testify to the quality of the chicken that everyone was loving and raving about. I had a veggie plate, with red beans and rice, cabbage, and plantains. I added in an imported Jamacian orange drink, which was awesome. Next time, I’m going with the ginger beer, another favorite. The true highlight was the amazing hot sauce on the table. Liberal doses of it made the red beans and ride into a truly memorable dish. I was full, but wanted to eat more.
It’s nothing fancy. The food is served on plastic (fortunately re-usable) plates and the utensils were disposible. But it’s also therefore cheap. I paid about $6 for my meal. I think the people who had chicken got out for about that much.
All in all, I’m feeling bolstered that there are at least some international food options in Montgomery. The Thai food is decent (and there’s a new place on the east side that we haven’t tried yet). We haven’t had any Chinese or Japanese that has stood out yet. The Indian food is above average. And now we know of a good, cheap Caribbean place.