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Places You Can Hang: Flames Restaurant

By Rory Lambert-Wright for Boston Compass (#130)

December 18, 2020

KFC, Taco Bell, and Arby’s are globally renowned food service establishments. They have fed billions, and together they have a net worth larger than several countries. But within Boston, there’s something outdoing them all in quality, authenticity, and even number of locations. Yes, maybe burger joint Wahlburger’s fits this description too, but if you’d like to eat at a restaurant whose proprietor hasn’t been charged for beating a Vietnamese man into unconsciousness while screaming slurs (This really happened, google it), might I recommend some Jamaican cuisine from Flames?

Owner Linval Chambers established Flames Restaurant Incorporated in 2001. The first location was opened in Mattapan, in the heart of Boston’s Caribbean immigrant community. Since then, Chambers has opened two more locations in Boston (Mission Hill and Dorchester), another in Brockton, and another in Atlanta. Each one I have visited has a cafeteria style setup for to-go orders. Their streamlined service option left them well-equipped for the shutdowns of table service, and the ongoing restrictions related to Covid-19. Day in and day out, they offer a product reminiscent of a homecooked and curbside Jamaican food.

I grew up eating Jamaican cooking, so I have high standards--Flames meets them all. This restaurant does not offer a sanitized “ethnic” menu one might encounter at a Chipotle or the Chinese restaurants--it’s accommodating to me, and other Caribbean frequenters. The last time I had curry goat as good as what I got from Flames, I was in Jamaica. The last time I had oxtail stew as good as Flames? My sister cooked it. It is precisely the food I grew up eating and enjoying. And if you try, you’ll enjoy it too.

My roommate asks me, “How’s the food”? I say, “It’s flames, bro”.

—Rory Lambert-Wright


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