Sarah Kirnon's Hibiscus is an oasis of Caribbean swelter amid the cool nightspots of Oakland's revitalized Uptown. Once inside the restaurant's moody lounge you'll feel like you've been transported to some West Indies rendezvous: worn wood, handblown glass, the thrum of reggae, and bookcases lined with tropical bric-a-brac inspire the sipping of a tall, cool cocktail from the inviting bar. In the wicker-limned dining room you can enjoy Kirnon's singular cuisine, which is part organic/sustainable California, but mostly the spicy flavors of her native Barbados. The crab and grits, jerk hen, salt cod fritters, fried plantains, and okra callaloo are all delicious, but don't pass up the terrific fried chicken, a recipe handed down from Kirnon's grandmother. The mood is hip yet friendly, there's Red Stripe on the beer list, and the New Parish is right next door when you're ready for the return voyage.
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