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. Redbones Blues Cafe

    $$ | Jamaican

    At this hip restaurant and bar, there's a lively music-and-arts scene, and the family owners take their social and environmental responsibilities...Read More

  • 2. Little Ochie

    $$ | Jamaican

    This casual beachside eatery, a favorite with locals and travelers, is known for its genuine Jamaican dishes like "fish tea" (a spicy bouillon...Read More

  • 3. Margaritaville Montego Bay

    $$ | Eclectic

    Along Montego Bay's Hip Strip, this colorful restaurant is a favorite spot thanks to its 110-foot waterslide into the sea, water trampolines...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Pier 1

    $$$ | Caribbean

    After tropical drinks at the deck bar, you'll be ready to dig into the international variations on fresh seafood; the best are the grilled lobster...Read More

  • 7. 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

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