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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Rockhouse Restaurant

    $$ | Caribbean

    This restaurant is a must for dinner at least once. The open-air dining area has huge comfy bamboo sofas where you can relax for an aperitif...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Pushcart Restaurant and Rum Bar

    $$ | Jamaican

    Diners can enjoy versions of traditional Jamaican street food in the comfort of an upscale cliff-side restaurant. Peppa shrimp, steam roast...Read More

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