You can almost feel the sand between your toes when you walk into Kairi Lele, Havre de Grace’s newest and only Caribbean restaurant.
An aroma of herbs and spices, combined with the soft sound of reggae music, transports guests from N. Washington Street to the tropics.
Items on the menu include calypso shrimp, island spiced grilled chicken and apple/squash soup, among many others.
The restaurant had its grand opening Sept. 19, which was coincidentally the 20-year wedding anniversary of owners Willis and Rhonda Gamory.
Rhonda Gamory, who graduated from the New York Food and Hotel Management School, had a catering business for more than 20 years before becoming the Havre de Grace restaurant's head chef. She moved to the U.S. from Trinidad at a young age, and Kairi Lele is Trinidadian for "Land of the Hummingbird."
Willis and Rhonda Gamory, who currently reside in North East, said once they saw the space on N. Washington Street in Havre de Grace, they knew they had to open Kairi Lele there.
“Havre de Grace didn’t have a Caribbean restaurant, and plus the location just seemed right. All I could say is God directed us here," Willis Gamory said.
The couple prides themselves on using the freshest herbs and meats for their dishes, which are made daily and never frozen.
“We put that time and love into preparing the food. What we prepare for ourselves is what we prepare for other people,” Willis Gamory said.
“We spend a lot of time in the prep. We spend hours cleaning our food. It takes hours alone just to prep the chicken. We take the skin and fat off of it and really take the time to clean it,” Rhonda Gamory added.
She recommends any of their curry dishes for those who eat Caribbean food on a regular basis.
“If you are looking for something spicy, our calypso or our jerk chicken is what you should try,” Rhonda Gamory said.
New to Caribbean cuisine? Try Kairi Lele's stew chicken. “It’s not too hot, actually not hot at all,” Rhonda Gamory said.
“We use a lot of spices, natural spices. What’s unique about our food is a lot people think Caribbean food is automatically hot. Our food is tasty but it doesn’t have to be hot. It’s tasty to the point where you can enjoy it and really appreciate it,” she said.
Entrées start at around $8 and are accompanied by peas and rice, chow mein and fried plantains. The menu includes various vegetarian dishes, including soups.
Willis and Rhonda Gamory look forward to expanding their menu with more entrées and herbal drinks. Both love sharing their culture and dish creations with others.
“People come here and tell us how amazing the food is and that brings joy to my heart,” Rhonda Gamory said. "The food speaks for itself."
Kairi Lele is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Call 443-502-5250 for more information.
Have you been to Kairi Lele yet? Tell us in the comments.