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. Jack Sprat Restaurant

    $$ | Eclectic

    It's no surprise that this restaurant shares its home resort's bohemian style (it's the beachside dining spot at Jakes). From the casual outdoor...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. Jakes Country Cuisine

    $$ | International

    Tables here are arranged in a terrace setting in front of the saltwater pool, with pretty lights in the trees at night (there are also booths...Read More

  • 19. Lew's International Chinese Restaurant

    $$ | Chinese

    An alternative to jerk, this unassuming place specializes in Cantonese comfort food in a casual setting. You can find many traditional favorites...Read More

  • 20. 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

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