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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Bloomfield Great House Restaurant and Bar

    $$ | International

    International fare with a Caribbean twist is the order of the day at Mandeville's most lauded restaurant. It's in a plantation great house that...Read More

  • 10. 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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