We love the First Coast, but we're all explorers and sometimes you want a taste from somewhere else.
Well, it turns out you don't have to leave Jacksonville.
Balla's Caribbean Restaurant takes you to the Caribbean.
"This is Jamaican regular food, what we cook daily in Jamaica," said Gary Brown, the owner.
Gary Brown grew up cooking and eating delicious food in Jamaica. He says that that's where he got the inspiration for many of the dishes on the menu.
So who is Balla? Well, he is.
"Why is my name Balla?" Brown said. "We were just coming from a party and I was just dancing, you know, just feel nice coming home. My friend said, 'you dance like some ballerina!'"
Now the choreography takes place in the kitchen, which is filled with the smells of spices, chicken, snapper fish, stews and sauces.
It's definitely got that Jamaican feel.
"One love, you know," Brown said. "Fuss about nothing."
Not to throw a fuss, but... all this delicious Caribbean food and guess what Balla's niece's favorite is?
"My favorite thing that I eat here is the mac 'n cheese," said Derreiana Marshall.
"Americans love the mac 'n cheese," Brown said in his kitchen.
We all love the mac 'n cheese and around here they really love nicknames.
"Okay, well my real name is Derreiana but everybody calls me Baby D around here, that's the nickname," Marshall said.
Bob Marley portraits are a fixture in Balla's. You know every little thing is gonna be alright because it's all alright in Balla's kitchen.
"It's a joy for me to cook," he said. "So when I cook I just put my heart and soul and love into that cooking."
Balla's Caribbean Restaurant is at 1410 Palmdale Street. Learn more here.