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. Pork Pit

    $$ | Jamaican

    A no-frills eatery favored by locals, Pork Pit is an authentic Jamaican restaurant. The main offering is fiery jerk (pork, chicken, and shrimp...Read More

  • 2. Biggs BBQ Restaurant & Bar

    $$ | Barbecue

    On the Hip Strip, this authentic barbecue joint, opened by a chef who got his start cooking barbecue in St. Louis, Missouri, features pulled...Read More

  • 3. Margaritaville Montego Bay

    $$ | Eclectic

    Along Montego Bay's Hip Strip, this colorful restaurant is a favorite spot thanks to its 110-foot waterslide into the sea, water trampolines...Read More

  • 4. Marguerites Seafood By the Sea

    $$$$ | Seafood

    At this romantic seaside restaurant, lobster, shrimp, and fish are the specialties, as is the Caesar salad. You can have your lobster grilled...Read More

  • 5. Pier 1

    $$$ | Caribbean

    After tropical drinks at the deck bar, you'll be ready to dig into the international variations on fresh seafood; the best are the grilled lobster...Read More

  • 6. Scotchies

    $ | Jamaican

    Many call this open-air jerk eatery the best in Jamaica, but the Scotchies Too branch in Ocho Rios makes it a tough call. Both serve genuine...Read More

  • 7. Seagrape Terrace

    $$$$ | International

    Named for the trees that line the beach at the Half Moon resorts, this beachside restaurant is open to the public. At lunchtime, a superb buffet...Read More

  • 8. Sugar Mill

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    The former Running Gut Sugar Estate near the Half Moon Resort Golf Course is the setting for the Sugar Mill, where Caribbean dishes with an...Read More

  • 9. Jamaican Bobsled Café

    $$ | Eclectic

    The trials and triumphs of Jamaica's Olympic bobsled team, inspiration for the 1993 film Cool Runnings, are celebrated at this Hip Strip eatery...Read More

  • 10. Rum Jungle Restaurant

    $$ | Caribbean

    Decorated like an indoor jungle, this expansive restaurant in the Coral Cliff entertainment center is casual and fun. The cuisine features Caribbean...Read More

  • 11. The Groovy Grouper Beach Bar and Grill

    $ | Jamaican

    Located on Doctor's Cave Beach at the Beach Club, this casual eatery may be a tourist favorite due to its location, but it offers a menu of...Read More

  • 12. The Native

    $$ | Caribbean

    Shaded by a large poinciana tree and overlooking Gloucester Avenue, this open-air stone terrace serves Jamaican and international dishes. To...Read More

  • 13. The Prince of Wales

    $$ | British

    In Half Moon's Shopping Village, this pub (formerly known as The Royal Stocks) brings a slice of jolly old England to Jamaica, from its dark...Read More

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