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  • Tristen T. Webb

Clear Out Your Sinuses at Kelly's Jamaican Food

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

The first time I had Kelly's Jamaican Food, my brother asked, "You wanna ruin your day? Go try Kelly's." Of course, he was talking about how spicy the food is, but he was also sure to comment on how good it is too. I was intrigued. 

At first glance, I thought little of the brightly-colored building, looking more like a shack. But something about that bright yellow wall with green accents sparked a flame inside that began to burn for hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Eating here changed the way that I view local restaurants and fueled my belief in their potential.

The Food

As Guy Fieri once said, "We're riding the bus to Flavortown!" Eating at Kelly's, it seemed as if I were on that bus. The pork is well-seasoned and juicy. As soon as those perfect cubes of pork entered my mouth, an assault of zest and spice hit my tastebuds with flavor I've never experienced before. 

My usual choice is jerk pork, green beans, mac and cheese, and a piece of cornbread akin to cake. The juices from the pork usually get into everything else giving it that certain jerk flavor from the meat. Everything is perfectly cooked and kept, full of soul. 

And the collard greens alone are something to write home about! Their spices mixed in with the greens makes the meal completely satisfying. Most people would recommend trying this or the spicy cabbage.

Here's how the magic happens: Kelly's has a serving table next to the register with food kept warm in it, and a two-sided menu to the left telling what they have available that day. Most options are consistent but may change from day to day. Sometimes they'll even have ox tail on their menu, so keep a lookout if that's your thing!

Sides can also be ordered a la carte. Top it off with a piece of cornbread and a sweet tea and you're good to go!

WARNING! Jamaican food is spicy, some more than others. It's the good kind of spicy that beckons you to keep eating more, but nevertheless, be careful if you have sensitive taste buds.

The People


Kelbourne Codling (aka Kelly) moved to the United States from Jamaica in 1969 with his family, working in construction before opening a restaurant in 1999.

His love for cooking came from his mother and his grandmother at a young age, and his passion shows in the way his restaurant is set up. His operation is run by his family, and they'll always ensure that you're taken care of. You'll feel like part of the family in no time.

Kelly's Authentic Jamaican Food has moved locations from the original in Stone Mountain, Georgia, all the way to Baxter Street and South Milledge Avenue in Athens, and finally to South Lumpkin Street and Epps Bridge Road, the current two locations.

Before graduation, one must stop by Kelly's for some authentic Jamaican food. You won't want to miss this authentic gem of the Athens food scene.


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©2020 by Tristen T. Webb