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. Evita's Italian Restaurant

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Set in an 1860s gingerbread house fronted by an old convertible roadster, Evita's–-an island institution and the self-proclaimed “Best Little...Read More

  • 2. Toscanini

    $$$ | International

    At Harmony Hall, this longtime favorite offers seating in the dining room and on the garden veranda. The menu features classic Italian dishes...Read More

  • 3. Almond Tree

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Named for the massive almond tree growing through the roof, this Ocho Rios restaurant has been serving dishes "Back A Yard" (the way things...Read More

  • 4. Island Grill

    $ | Jamaican

    With 18 locations across the island, this eat-in or take-out restaurant about a block from the main tourist area serves a Jamaican version of...Read More

  • 5. Mamma Marley's Jammin Bar

    $$ | Jamaican

    A wide array of appetizers include crab cake, jerk shrimp, and chicken wings, while main course selections include curry chicken, ackee and...Read More

  • 6. Margaritaville Ocho Rios

    $$ | Eclectic

    If you're looking for a cheeseburger in paradise and blended drinks, come to the familiar Margaritaville. Part of the popular chain (also in...Read More

  • 7. Mystic Dining at 700 Feet

    $$ | Caribbean

    Perched high above Ocho Rios, this restaurant is part of the Mystic Mountain entertainment area. Serving contemporary Caribbean cuisine, Mystic...Read More

  • 8. Ocho Rios Jerk Centre

    $ | Jamaican

    This canopied, open-air eatery is a great place for fiery jerk pork, chicken, or seafood such as fish and conch. Frosty Red Stripe beer and...Read More

  • 9. Roadster

    $ | Jamaican

    This simple, rustic eatery across from Jamaica Inn serves good Jamaican food at unbeatable prices. You can eat under a tree or inside the restaurant...Read More

  • 10. Scotchies Too

    $ | Jamaican

    The Ocho Rios branch of the longtime Montego Bay favorite has been lauded by international chefs for its excellent jerk. The plates of jerk...Read More

  • 11. Ultimate Jerk Centre and Rest Stop

    $ | Jamaican

    A favorite with locals traveling the North Coast Highway, Ultimate Jerk Centre is an open-air eatery, across from the Green Grotto Caves. Jerk...Read More

  • 12. Coconuts on the Bay

    Jamaican

    This casual eatery, opposite the cruise pier, offers slightly upscale versions of local specialties. Start with jerk chicken wings or conch...Read More

  • 13. Hard Rock Café

    Eclectic

    Within walking distance of the cruise pier, this popular eatery is filled with music memorabilia, including Bob Marley's handwritten lyrics...Read More

  • 14. R2

    $ | Eclectic

    Perched high above Ocho Rios, R2 is part of the Mystic Mountain entertainment area. Serving contemporary Caribbean cuisine with an emphasis...Read More

  • 15. The Ruins at the Falls

    $$$$ | International

    Just as the name suggests, this restaurant is perched beside a waterfall. Tables sit at the base of the 40-foot cascade, making this a romantic...Read More

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