A Middlesex Road space that once sat vacant for five years is now filled with a taste of the islands.
"What's unique and cool about Caribbean food is that it has influences from all around the world," said Justin Lance, general manager of Bahama Breeze.
The restaurant, whose sister eateries include Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Capital Grill, Longhorn Steakhouse, and the Yard House, opened in Tyngsboro in March 2012. The 320-seat island grill boasts a large dining room with bright colored booths printed with flowers, palm trees, turtles, a bar illuminated with blue, orange, and green shelves, and a large deck, where live music can be heard daily from 4 to 11 p.
"Come by and enjoy an island state of mind," Lance said.
When it comes to tropical flair, Bahama Breezes pulls out all the stops. The eatery even goes as far as to squeeze fresh sugar cane daily for its lemonade and mojitos, garnishing its mojitos (available in a handful of flavors) with a sugar cane swizzle stick.
The frozen Bahamarita (tequila blended with mango, kiwi, and strawberry ice) is served with a "sidecar" of cactus juice.
Most of the restaurant's menu items boast a Caribbean splash but all are approachable -- think chicken, seafood, and steak, Lance said, adding that diners shouldn't shy away from the jerk seasoning, a blend of thyme, allspice, scallions, and Scotch Bonnet peppers, featured in many dishes.
"Our food is more bold and flavorful," Lance said.
The Jerk Chicken Pasta (sliced jerk chicken breast, fresh asparagus and mushrooms tossed in a Parmesan cream sauce with bow-tie pasta) quickly emerged as a favorite at the eatery's Tyngsboro location, as did the Beef Empanadas appetizer (handmade pastries filled with savory beef and potatoes and serve with the restaurant's signature sour cream, blended with creole seasoning, tomato, onion, and cilantro).
"People love 'em in Tyngsboro," Lance said.
The indisputable top seller at Bahama Breeze is its Coconut Shrimp, available as an appetizer, entrée, or as part of a combo. The shrimp is marinated before it's breaded and fried.
"No one does it like we do," Lance said.
314 Middlesex Road, Tyngsboro, 978-649-6660, bahamabreeze.com
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight. Half-price appetizers are served from 4-6 p.m. (Mon.-Fri.) and 9-11 p.m. (Sun.-Thurs.)
Reservations: Accepted for large parties.
Menu: Approachable dishes with a Caribbean flair.
Atmosphere: Casual and tropical.
Try this: Jerk Chicken Pasta, Jumbo Lump Crab Stack (blue crab, shrimp, apple-mango salsa, avocado), Baby Back Ribs (glazed with guava barbecue sauce), Big Eye Ahi Tuna (shipped regularly from Hawaii) and for dessert, the Bahama Breeze award-winning Keylime Pie.
Cocktail: Mojito, Bahamarita, Painkiller.