Photography by Craig Harley
Team PANACHE received the most amber-warm Chilitos welcome from co-owner, Christopher Boxe and Chief Brand Officer, Natalie Nash at their new location on 88 Hope Road. A place with an open feel, vibrant colors and warm accent pieces- Chilitos feels almost totally outdoors, but also has that relaxed kind of Caribbean meets Central American semi-enclosed cuddle. Wooden decor spiced with contrasting accent burnt orange and pops of vibrant tones- all meeting the eye like an architectural manifestation of the flavours and colours of the meals you’d find on their Jamexican menu. A space that makes it difficult for you to decide to grab your meal as take-out. The ambiance tempts you to stay and comfortably get a morning snack on tacos in your pajamas, go for Quesadilla brunch, lunch, post midday snack, or Burritos for dinner and Margaritas, Tequila shots, Rum or bottles of beer for whenever it’s five o’clock somewhere in the world.
Chilitos was established in 2007 by The Carby Family (Julio, Nadia & Loraine). The previous location was a gracefully aged house. One you’d imagine seeing in New Orleans, with a charm as rare as the Jamexican concept- almost as if it was built and aged like wine, predestined to someday become the first home of Chilitos.
Ten years later (my, my…time flies) Chilitos, under the leadership of Christopher Boxe and Craig Hammond, continues to not just thrive, but dig deeper roots. The restaurant is poised to sprout new branches- spreading that under-the-tree, lay-in-hammock feeling that is open to anyone who wishes to part-take. An organization proud to provide a familial kind of service to anyone, from whatever walk of life. This is the keystone around which the company’s tone, brand and essential vibe took form. Christopher Boxe avers that the embodiment of Chilitos is a master blend which aged and took flavour organically- the decor and feel from the first location at (64 Hope Road), swirled with the energies of the myriad of customers and events that have passed through over the years, with a dash of the maturity that came with the customers who have been there for the past 10 years- meets the new customers who come in every new day. The company has taken shape, like a live being- taking shape based on its journey. The new space still has some aesthetics brought from the old location with a more modern space and open layout. Boxe, who is a foodie and a chef in his own right is inspired to keep expanding the range of offerings. Adding to the already dynamic blend of Jamexican dishes.
An interesting fact about this restaurant is that the organization is big on supporting local farmers. All the ingredients used in the products are sourced from local farmers. Every lettuce, tomato, pepper, lime…everything but the tacos, wraps, and meats. This Boxe indicated allows the restaurant to maintain its accessibility by keeping prices as reasonable as possible by eliminating the “middle man”- while also building the local/ small farmers. Knowing that the fresh veggies Team PANACHE enjoyed in the jerked chicken tacos and other selections we absolutely enjoyed came from a small farmer, made us even more delighted to dine at Chilitos.
The team at Chilitos has established an outreach program at the Glenhope Children’s Home on Maxfield Avenue. A programme which stemmed from the managing team deciding one day that it would have been a wonderful idea to do Sunday dinner for the Children resulted in a bond being melded- resulting in what has now become regulated visits of activities and treats.
As the organization grows- emphasis on the team being human- focusing on empathy, compromise and kindness remain at the fore of their attitude and what they believe will set them apart from many in the Jamaican food/ hospitality industry.|P