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. Ivan's Restaurant

    $$$ | Caribbean

    Upscale Caribbean cuisine, stunning cliff-side dining, and romance make this one of the best places to eat on Negril's West End. Watch the...Read More

  • 2. Kuyaba on the Beach

    $$ | Jamaican

    Open all day and right on the beach, this charming thatch-roof restaurant is one of the top spots for dinner on Negril's 7-mile (11-km) strip...Read More

  • 3. Rockhouse Restaurant

    $$ | Caribbean

    This restaurant is a must for dinner at least once. The open-air dining area has huge comfy bamboo sofas where you can relax for an aperitif...Read More

  • 4. 3 Dives Restaurant and Cliff Bar

    $ | Jamaican

    This very casual restaurant is housed beneath a big roof and not much more. It's best known for its jerk (and its annual jerk festival in December...Read More

  • 5. Annie's Restaurant

    $$ | International

    For a special occasion or a night of romantic indulgence, book the private dining cave overlooking the sea at this casual but upscale small...Read More

  • 6. Bongos Restaurant

    $$$ | International

    A grand piano and a well-stocked premium bar add to the upscale feeling at this restaurant, with stylish indoor seating and patio tables. The...Read More

  • 7. Chicken Lavish

    $ | Jamaican

    This longtime West End eatery prepares chicken the way locals like it: curried, fried, jerked, and baked. The restaurant is in a simple, green...Read More

  • 8. Cosmo's Seafood Restaurant and Bar

    $$ | Seafood

    Owner Cosmo Brown has made this seaside, open-air bistro a pleasant place to spend the afternoon—and maybe stay on for dinner. Fish is the main...Read More

  • 9. Just Natural

    $ | Vegetarian

    This low-key eatery with the motto "come and relax" serves vegetarian and seafood dishes as well as fresh fruit and vegetable juices, but it...Read More

  • 10. Le Vendome

    $$$ | French

    The Charela Inn's pretty restaurant is lit up with strings of Christmas lights, with tables set out on the beach (there's also a covered patio...Read More

  • 11. LTU Pub

    $$ | International

    This thatched bar and eatery is one of the prettiest on the West End. Right on the cliffs and practically next door to Rick's Cafe, it has dazzling...Read More

  • 12. Margaritaville Negril

    $$ | International

    Like its sister properties in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Margaritaville in Negril is usually packed with young partiers. Island dishes such...Read More

  • 13. Norma's at Seasplash

    $$ | International

    Named for the late Norma Shirley, known as the Julia Child of Jamaica, Norma's at Seasplash is now helmed by a student of the late chef. Dishes...Read More

  • 14. Pushcart Restaurant and Rum Bar

    $$ | Jamaican

    Diners can enjoy versions of traditional Jamaican street food in the comfort of an upscale cliff-side restaurant. Peppa shrimp, steam roast...Read More

  • 15. Rick's Cafe

    $$$ | Caribbean

    A Negril institution since the hippie days of the 1960s and 1970s, Rick's is one of the resort town's best-known landmarks and attracts busloads...Read More

  • 16. Shark's Restaurant

    $ | Jamaican

    Unassuming, but nicely decorated, Shark's is a reliable place to sample local cooking in a friendly and laid-back atmosphere. The thatched roadside...Read More

  • 17. The Blue Mahoe

    $$ | Jamaican

    Located at the Spa Retreat, this restaurant offers upscale dining in a cliff-side setting where you can enjoy Negril's famed sunsets. Named...Read More

  • 18. The Caves Restaurant

    $$$$ | Jamaican

    With a reservation, nonguests can savor authentic Jamaican cuisine with a twist at this gorgeous boutique resort on Negril's West End. The price...Read More

  • 19. The Hungry Lion

    $$ | Eclectic

    This small but intimate restaurant with stylish decor has long been a West End favorite. An eclectic crowd comes to enjoy excellent vegetarian...Read More

  • 20. Pirates Cave Bar and Restaurant

    Eclectic

    If this place looks just a tad familiar, it might be because the cliffs and nearby sea cave were used as a setting in 20,000 Leagues Under...Read More

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