Stephanie Caspelich

Reporting the news that matters.

Tickie’s Belizean Restaurant: A Taste of Central America in Rogers Park

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Tickie’s Belizean Restaurant has been serving rice and beans, ginger beer and stew chicken in Rogers Park since 1997. It has become a distinct reminder of home for the thousands of Belizeans who have lived in Chicago since the 1940s.

“My wife Claudia and I picked this location. We actually did some research and found out that there is a huge community of Belizeans here,” said Hubert Young, 57, owner and chef. He has lived in Chicago since 1978.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are roughly 4,242 Belizeans in the metropolitan area. Aside from Rogers Park, Belizeans have settled in EvanstonWaukegan, Zion and the South Side of Chicago.

Belizean society is just as diverse as its cuisine. “The culture from Belize is a mixture. You have the Spanish, Garifuna (a mix of African, Arawak and Carib ancestry), the local Belizean; it really is like the United Nations,” said Hubert. “You have people from all walks of life. It’s that kind of a country.”

Belize is bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to its south and west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. It is a Central American country that has strong ties to the Caribbean and Latin America; the mixture of influences is evident in the food.

“I come here often because the food tastes good and the flavors are familiar,” said Michael Allen, a transplanted Jamaican who has been a loyal customer for years despite the abundance of Jamaican restaurants in the area.

“You don’t have to be Belizean to feel welcome here. People from all walks of life come in to eat,” said Claudia. “We try to make everyone feel comfortable, feel at home. Hopefully, we give them a reason to come back.”

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Written by Stephanie Caspelich

February 14, 2012 at 6:34 am

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