While Jamaica may be known for its beaches and Bob Marley, many visitors don't realize how big the food scene is here. Yes, we have succulent jerk and refreshing Red Stripe to wash it down, but we have also found a way to make other cuisines our own by incorporating local flavours into dishes from all over the world. From casual tuck-ins to gourmet farm to table feasts, Jamaica is best enjoyed one bite sized piece at a time.
Quick Bites: Jamaican Street Foods to Spice Up Any Epic Road Trip
Whether you're feeling for a snack on the road, or suffering from an extreme case of midnight munchies, Jamaican street foods are a quick and tasty way to satisfy your cravings. Heading home from a long night of partying, tired, starved, and ready for a hot meal? It's a no-brainer to stop by the nearest pan chicken man. The steaming, flavour filled chicken fresh off the grill will surely satisfy your appetite and leave you ready for some well needed shut-eye. Don't make the mistake of confusing pan chicken with jerk chicken however, as the two have their own distinct character with one being grilled quickly over coal and the other slow cooked over pimento wood.
Other Jamaican street food includes boiled corn, peanut soup, cow cod (skin) soup and roasted yam and saltfish and can actually be found in small lunch shops in incredibly casual settings along rural country roads, such as the top of Spur Tree Hill or by the sea in Boston Bay, making the location part of the experience. It is very common to see multiple vendors grouped together, like the well-known rest stops of Faith's Pen, Border or Friendship Gap, selling traditional Jamaican meals. A taste of roast yam and salt fish, or boiled corn and soup will satisfy your hunger while the rustic flavours complement your views of the rural landscape. Washing any of these street foods down with some ice-cold coconut water is a great way to complete your authentic Jamaican street food experience.
Bounty of the Sea: Scrumptious seafood from the beach to the buffet
No day at the beach is complete without a plate of fresh seafood. Whether you choose fried or steamed fish, decide to indulge in a juicy lobster tail or sample the curried conch -- a bellyful of seafood paired with festival or bammy is undoubtedly the perfect way to round out a relaxing day at the beach.
For those who would prefer to dine in, there are ways to savour your catch of the day tableside in a traditional restaurant setting. With a large selection of seafood restaurants located along the coastlines from a relaxed to a formal setting you can choose from to enjoy great seafood all across the island.
The ultra-casual Tianna's Fish Hut and Beer Joint, situated on Kingston's Fort Clarence Beach, is one of the amazing places offering the laid-back experience preferred by many locals and tourists alike. You can order some fish and festival, go for a swim, and come out of the water to a delicious lunch. Just collect your food, find a spot in the sand, and devour every last bit of your succulent fish, avoiding the spiny bones of course. Most people dive right in with their hands for this deliciously casual meal.
Careful with the pepper sauce, it's delicious but takes some getting used to. If you're feeling a little tired of the sand and salt, and would prefer a traditional dining experience, head to local favourite Gloria's, which serves some of the most delicious fresh seafood in the center of the historic town of Port Royal, once the stomping ground of ruthless pirates and buccaneers.
Clean and Green: Yummy Jamaican Farm to Fork Meals
The idea of a farm to table dinner was adopted after a boost in organic farming in Jamaica. There is something about mixing fresh gourmet foods and rustic dining that draws the attention of visitors, and even a few locals. If you are looking for a more refined farm to table dinner, Stush in the Bush, an organic farm located in the hills of St. Ann, allows you to book a private farm to table meal. You can have up to 70 guests and may choose between a four or six course vegetarian meal. A tour of their farm is the prologue to dinner, for guests to see how they cultivate exotic crops used to make the food. Other events are held periodically, like their Yoga Brunch which is held once a month. If you would rather a rustic farm to fork experience Jakes Farm-To-Table Dinner, held once a month on Dool's Farm in Treasure Beach, may be for you. After a brief introduction to the area, the bread basket of the the island, guests are invited to take a seat under a mango tree, in a working farm with the full moon shining overhead. Enjoy modern Jamaican cuisine with great wines in a picturesque setting enjoying the company of old and new friends.
Story Worthy: One-of-a-kind Island Dining
Jamaica's unique food scene can go from rustic to refined in a matter of miles. With a wide offering of dining choices from simple seafood shacks, to romantic dining in caves and hilltop restaurants memorable meals abound all over the island. The Hopewell area in Hanover is home to Lobster Trapp, a rustic and casual seafood restaurant perched on the water. It sells fresh, flavour packed seafood that is sure to satisfy. Nestled in the Blue Mountain Range is the Blue Ridge Restaurant and Cottages. This historic eatery is in the middle of a coffee farm and has breathtaking views of Kingston and the Caribbean Sea. 'Plantain wrapped in bacon with cilantro cream sauce' and 'Blue Ridge pork chops in guava glaze' are some of the unique items on their menu. On the other side of the island, in the tourist hotspot town of Negril is The Caves a boutique hotel on the west end of the town. A feature of the hotel is it's ability to offer guests to book a private dining experience where they will be served a five course meal in one of two private dining caves. While this attraction is aimed at couples, there is also the option to have a drink at the 'Blackwell Rum Bar', also situated in a cave. Whether you choose to have dinner or a drink, this cave dining experience won't be forgotten.
Lobster Trapp: www.lobstertrapp.com
The Caves: www.thecaveshotel.com
Blue Ridge Restaurant: www.blueridgeja.com
Great Food Festivals: Fulfill Your Every Foodie Desire
If a non stop eating and drinking festival sounds like your kind of experience, one of Jamaica's many food festivals might be the way to go. For two weeks every year, a couple of the island's best foodie experinces occur back to back. One of the best annual food events, the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival is an experience gourmands won't want to miss out on. Feasting on delicious food for six days straight is the ultimate dream for anyone wanting a unique foodie experience. From the uber casual 'Meet Street and The Market' with food trucks and pop ups, to 'Brunch at the Gallery' with local art and apertifs galore, this food festival offers something for every taste and occasion with eight exclusive events.
Restaurant Week is another ideal event for the foodie who wants to experience the cuisines of the different culutres that reflect our motto Out of Many One People. During this week restaurants across Jamaica create three course set menus, as well as taster sampler platters, for a fixed price.
Restaurant Week: www.go-jamaica.com/rw/
Jamaica Food and Drink Festival: www.jafoodanddrink.com
Sampling the delicious island food scene can be the perfect highlight of any island holiday or staycation in Jamaica. Try out some of the suggestions mentioned here, check out other dining options or some of the delicious recipes offered on our website and try your hand at creating your own one-of-a-kind, unforgettable foodie experience.