Jamaica Restaurants

Probably the most famous Jamaican dish is jerk pork—the ultimate island barbecue. The pork (purists cook a whole pig) is covered with a paste of Scotch bonnet peppers, pimento berries (also known as allspice), and other herbs, and cooked slowly over a coal fire. Many aficionados believe the best jerk comes from Boston Beach, near Port Antonio. Jerk chicken and fish are also seen on many menus. The ever-so-traditional rice and peas is similar to the moros y cristianos of Spanish-speaking islands: white rice cooked with red kidney beans, coconut milk, scallions, and seasonings.

The island's most famous soup—the fiery pepperpot—is a spicy mixture of salt pork, salt beef, okra, and the island green known as callaloo. Patties (spicy meat pies) elevate street food to new heights. Although patties actually originated in Haiti, Jamaicans excel at making them. Curried goat is another island standout: the young goat cooked with spices is tenderer and has a gentler flavor than the lamb for which immigrants from India substituted it. Salted fish was once the best that islanders could do between catches. Out of necessity, a breakfast staple (and the national dish of Jamaica) was invented. It joins seasonings with saltfish and ackee, a red fruit that grows on trees throughout the island. When cooked in this dish, ackee reminds most people of scrambled eggs.

There are fine restaurants in all the resort areas, many in Kingston and in the resorts themselves. Many restaurants outside the hotels in Mo'Bay and Ocho Rios will provide complimentary transportation.

What to Wear: Dinner dress is usually casual chic (or just plain casual at many local hangouts, especially in Negril). There are a few exceptions in Kingston and at the top resorts; some require semiformal wear (no shorts; collared shirts for men) in the evening during high season. People tend to dress up for dinner; men might be more comfortable in nice slacks, women in a sundress.

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  • 1. Redbones Blues Cafe

    $$ | Jamaican

    At this hip restaurant and bar, there's a lively music-and-arts scene, and the family owners take their social and environmental responsibilities...Read More

  • 2. Gloria's

    $$ | Jamaican

    The unassuming setting belies the excellent food served at this restaurant, frequented by Kingston residents who happily drive to Port Royal...Read More

  • 3. Hot Pot

    $ | Jamaican

    Jamaicans love the Hot Pot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fricassee chicken is the specialty, along with other local dishes like mackerel...Read More

  • 4. Jade Garden

    $$$$ | Chinese

    On the third floor of the Sovereign Centre mall, this place has great views of the Blue Mountains. Take a seat in one of the shiny black-lacquer...Read More

  • 5. The Grog Shoppe

    $$ | Jamaican

    Inside what was once the horse and carriage stable and blacksmith's shop of the historic Devon House, the Grog Shoppe is known for local dishes...Read More

  • 6. Green Market Cafe

    $$$ | Jamaican

    For lunch, this casual hotel restaurant serves a decent buffet of mainly Jamaican food; an à la carte menu is also available. Green Market is...Read More

  • 7. Guilt Restaurant

    $$ | Jamaican

    Bold creations that transform traditional Jamaican cuisine into novel, sumptuous meals please the most discerning palate. Eat on the terrace...Read More

  • 8. Palm Court

    Eclectic

    On the mezzanine floor of the Wyndham Kingston Jamaica, the elegant Palm Court is open for both lunch and dinner. The dining room is furnished...Read More

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