Betty's Place

Betty's isn't your typical soul food joint. The quaint west Hollywood restaurant serves breakfast and lunch to folks looking for a taste of home — for breakfast, mounds of eggs done any way, with grits, pancakes, salmon croquettes, and fish platters; for lunch, fried shrimp, barbeque chicken wings, braised oxtail, and smothered pork chops. But their signature dish doesn't come directly from the backwoods South; instead, it takes a meandering turn through Jamaica. It's Betty's ultra-spicy jerk chicken — a destination-worthy plate of poultry if ever there was one. The southern soul comes from barbecuing on a barrel smoker out back. Then the island creeps in as the bird is chopped into knuckle-sized, bone-in chunks and slathered with Betty's super-secret jerk sauce, a furious paste of garlic, habenero, and loads of coarse black pepper. The succulent chicken clings to the bones with an infant's grip, its once-tactile collagen load now serving double duty, enabling the piquant jerk sauce to take hold of your palate for hours. Spice this fervent can be dangerous. Fortunately, Betty's stellar rice and peas, collard greens, and braised cabbage (with big ol' chunks of ham hock) lower your internal temperature to a slow boil.

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