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. Boston Jerk Centre

    $ | Jamaican

    Actually a collection of about half a dozen open-air stands, this is a culinary landmark thanks to its popular jerk pits. Stroll up to the open...Read More

  • 2. Pelican Bar

    $ | Seafood

    One of the funkiest places to down a cold Red Stripe, this whimsical structure sits on stilts ½ mile (1 km) offshore between Treasure Beach...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Billy's Grassy Park

    $ | Jamaican

    In the Middle Quarters strip along the South Coast Highway, this side-of-the-road stop serves fiery Jamaican food, including scorching peppered...Read More

  • 5. Cafe Blue

    $ | Café

    Perched on a hillside more than 3,000 feet up in Irish Town, Cafe Blue could be one of the most stunning places to enjoy a cup of coffee in...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Cloggy's on the Beach

    $ | Jamaican

    This casual bar and restaurant between Treasure Beach and Negril makes a pleasant stop, with lots of beachside appeal. There are tables inside...Read More

  • 8. Club Nazz and Restaurant

    $ | Falmouth | Jamaican

    Just 100 yards west of Water Square, this restaurant is in a restored, brightly painted Georgian-style building that once served as a courthouse...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 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 Arches

    $ | Jamaican

    This poolside restaurant serves Jamaican favorites as well as international dishes. The Sunday breakfast is a Mandeville tradition; a lavish...Read More

  • 18. The Garden Restaurant at Somerset Falls

    $ | Jamaican

    Surrounded by tropical gardens and the flowing waters of the Daniel River, this restaurant offers breakfast and lunch in a casual yet romantic...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Woody's Low Bridge Place Fast Food Restaurant & Bar

    $ | Jamaican

    Positive vibes and burgers are featured at this roadside eatery. Charles "Woody" Cousins and wife Cherry serve up simple fare from a whitewashed...Read More

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